the biodiversity of French waterways is threatened, warns WWF

The World Wide Fund for Nature publishes on Wednesday the first health assessment of rivers in France. Our 620,000 kilometers of waterways are in a degraded state.



Reading time: 2 min

The Gouessant river, in Brittany in July 2021. According to WWF France, 57% of waterways are not in a good ecological state.  (GUIZIOU FRANCK / HEMIS.FR / AFP)

For the first time, WWF France, the World Wide Fund for Nature, publishes on Wednesday May 22 an index which measures the evolution of biodiversity in the various French freshwater courses. Overall, it appears that biodiversity has deteriorated with the proliferation of invasive species such as Louisiana crayfish or catfish, but with the fall of numerous populations of birds or fish that live in or near these rivers. In total, indicates the environmental protection organization, 57% of watercourses are not in a good ecological state, that is to say capable of supporting balanced animal and plant life, while while being little polluted.

This is a disappointing result, considering the 500 billion euros invested in water policies over the past 20 years. In detail, it appears that these policies have mainly served to improve the quality of water in rivers downstream of large cities, thanks to the modernization of sanitation networks. There are, for example, six times more fish in the Seine at the Pont de l’Alma, in Paris, today than there were 60 years ago, indicates WWF, but at the same time, 45% of river trout in less.

The rivers of the cities are doing better, but the rivers of the fields have deteriorated under the effect in particular of the intensification of agricultural practices, the construction of certain dams, the widening of the river beds, or the implementation installing concrete structures to consolidate the banks. So many developments that harm natural ecosystems.

In view of these results, WWF France is calling for better application of the polluter pays principle, particularly in the face of diffuse pollution due to nitrates, pesticides and industrial micropollutants. The NGO also calls on public authorities to restore, as promised six years ago, the continuity of 25,000 kilometers of waterways by 2030, by removing all the small unnecessary dams which block the movement of fish, there are seven on average every ten kilometers of rivers.

source site-23