Lake Superior shoreline

Great Lakes

Lake Superior shoreline

Containing more than 20 percent of the earth’s surface freshwater, the Great Lakes provide drinking water for more than 30 million people and habitat for a vast array of plants and wildlife, including more than 200 globally rare species. The basin’s immense network of streams, lakes, wetlands and forests provides critical ecological services, such as water filtration, flood control, nutrient cycling and carbon storage. The region also offers unmatched opportunities for shipping, industry, tourism and recreation. 

The Great Lakes and the broader basin have been significantly degraded over the past two centuries. Habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, and contaminants impair water quality, threaten wildlife populations, and jeopardize the health and economic vitality of the region. While restoration efforts have accelerated recently with support from federal funding, recovery will require a sustained effort that addresses historical impacts and new and emerging threats. 

Conservation Needs & Strategies

With a focus on building resilience for habitats and communities in light of historic and emerging threats, NFWF’s Great Lakes Business Plan addresses three priority Great Lakes issues: streams, coastal wetlands and water quality.

Strategy 1
Streams: Restore Aquatic Connectivity, Restore Stream Geomorphology, Improve In-stream Habitat, Improve Riparian Habitat
Strategy 2
Coastal Wetlands: Restore Aquatic Connectivity, Improve Hydrology, Improve Habitat Structure and Quality
Strategy 3
Water Quality: Reduce Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution, Reduce Urban Stormwater Runoff, Reduce Sediment Loading