Land & Water Stories

Fresh Water for Life on Earth

Underwater photo of fish swimming over various vegetation.
Caroline Springs These pristine waters are located in the desert oasis of the TNC’s Independence Creek Preserve in West Texas. © Erika Nortemann/The Nature Conservancy

For people and nature, water is life. 

But the planet’s freshwater systems are crashing—resulting in a sharp decline in water security and biodiversity. In nearly every corner of the planet we’ve either over-extracted, over-fished and overengineered our freshwater ecosystems. And the consequences are stacking up. 

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The good news is we know how to reverse this trajectory. Investing in nature offers a clear pathway to protecting and restoring the freshwater systems on which nature and people depend. 

Around the world, the Nature Conservancy is developing the tools and partnerships needed to make a difference.

Our Commitment to Fresh Water

TNC is doubling down on its commitment to freshwater conservation around the world. By 2030, TNC aims to conserve 1 million kilometers of rivers and 30 million hectares of lakes and wetlands to benefit tens of millions of people. Learn more about our 2030 Goals.

Protecting Our Water: Every Drop Connects Us (2:10) Through rivers, lakes, wetlands and springs beneath our feet, water connects every living thing on the planet. Freshwater habitats cover less than 1% of the planet’s total surface, and yet they are some of the most diverse in the world.

The Urgency to Protect Fresh Water

  • Icon of a great blue heron in a marsh.


    The world has lost nearly one-third of its freshwater ecosystems since 1970.

  • Icon of a fish blowing bubbles in water.


    Monitored freshwater populations have declined by an average of 83% since 1970.

  • Icon of a river flowing through trees.


    TNC's goal is to conserve 1 million kilometers of the world's rivers by 2030.

  • Icon of cattails in a marsh.


    TNC also aims to conserve 30 million hectares of lakes and wetlands by 2030.

Explore our Tools and Resources


WaterProof is a tool that provides a rapid and indicative NbS investment portfolio and associated ROI. The tool is intended to engage stakeholders interested in exploring solutions to local water challenges and prioritization of locations for possible NbS water security programs.

Financing Nature for Water Security

The How-To Guide for Watershed Investment Programs is designed for those seeking to improve their water security via Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in a programmatic manner. The guide assists readers in understanding how to design, implement and finance NbS investment programs that drive long-term water security outcomes.

Invisible Reservoir Report

A new TNC report shows the economic and biological benefit that restoration can have on water security in São Paulo, Brazil.

Nature for Water Facility

The Nature for Water Facility is a partnership managed by The Nature Conservancy and Pegasys. The Facility is purpose-built to provide the gold standard in technical assistance for Nature-based Solutions, helping local champions build out watershed investment programs. 

Freshwater Fisheries Story Map

Meet the communities that are stewarding global freshwater ecosystems for nature and people 

Aerial view of two people dressed in winter outerwear and wearing helmets setting up a red tent on the surface of an ice floe.
Setting up camp Campers in the top crater of Mt. Herdubreid, Iceland. © Sigtryggur Johannsson