Marine and freshwater conservation
Aquatic ecosystems cover approximately 70 per cent of the earth’s surface and are essential for supporting life on our planet.
They play a vital role in climate regulation and nutrient cycling, and we are fundamentally dependent on them for drinking water and for food. Despite this, aquatic habitats are less understood than their terrestrial counterparts and are faced with increasing threats.
ZSL recognises the importance of improving the management and sustainable use of aquatic resources, and has developed a programme of marine and freshwater conservation. We work with local communities and partner organisations in the UK and worldwide.
Mangrove forests: Philippines
Panay Island, in the Western Visayas of the Philippines, used to be home to over 12,400 hectares of lush mangrove forests. However, extensive clearing to make way for shrimp farms has left little more than barren coastlines, robbing the local coastal communities of their livelihoods and natural resources.
Read more about mangrove conservation
Project Seahorse was co-founded by ZSL in 1996 in response to the destructive, global seahorse fishery. ZSL, as a partner of Project Seahorse, has helped establish over thirty no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in conjunction with local communities and government with a global project repertoire.
Read more about Project Seahorse
The Chagos archipelago is home to some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world as well as being a globally important breeding grounds for turtles and birds. Following pressure from the Chagos Environment Network which includes ZSL, the UK government recently made a truly historic decision to establish Chagos as a no-take Marine Protected Area, setting a new global benchmark for responsible ocean stewardship.
Read more about Chagos
Bangladesh Aquatic Project
ZSL is collaborating with the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh to develop a new aquatics project in the Sundarbans - the World's largest mangrove forest - investigating the poorly understood fishieres in the region.
Read more about the project
Meet the Team
Meet the international conservation team behind ZSL's Marine and Freshwater conservation programme.
Read more about us.
Thames Estuary: UK
In the last 30 years, the Thames Estuary has become one of the world's most unpolluted metropolitan tideways, but its rich variety of wildlife remains a well kept secret. The marine and freshwater team carry out surveys on a wide variety of these cryptic creatures ranging from eels to seals.
Read about Thames conservation
The Marine and Freshwater team has joined forces with the EDGE programme to protect some of the most distinctive coral species and their habitats. These ecosystems are some of the most complex and unique in the world but are also highly sensitive andlikely to be the first major ecosystems to face extinction due to climate change.
Coral conservation work
Monitoring Trade in Corals and Marine Life
EDGE Coral Reefs programme
There are far fewer protected areas in the sea compared to reserves on land, in spite of them being included in a number of international policy targets. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are conservation sites in the ocean, set aside as safe havens for fish and their ecosystem. ZSL co-founded Project Seahorse in 1996 and has helped establish 34 MPAs in the Philippines to date. MPAs provide a safe haven where fish and other marine life can thrive.
Read more on MPAs
Fish Net aims to establish viable captive breeding populations for many of the critically endangered freshwater fishes. The project also aims to develop in-country conservation management plans and raise the profile of these often neglected fishes.
Read more about Fish Net
Past and Completed Projects
Mozambique - ZSL worked alongside the local Cazo Delagdo population to tag and track turtles. Read more
Pink Sea Fan - ZSL developed conservation strategies to preserve the threatened pink sea fan, Eunicella verrucosa, both in the wild and within our aquarium systems. Read more
Ornamental Fish in Brazil -The amazonian export of freshwater fish is valued at $100million annually. ZSL worked with local communities to establish best practise guidelines and develop a sustainable fishery. Read more