Freshwater ecosystems are a subset of Earth's aquatic ecosystems. They include lakes and ponds, rivers, streams, springs, and wetlands. They can be contrasted with marine ecosystems, which have a larger salt content. Freshwater habitats can be classified by different factors, including temperature, light penetration, and vegetation.
Population growth and a rapidly expanding economy are fueling an exponential increase in the human use of resources in LAC. Indeed, globalization of the economy and the development of regional trade markets (such as NAFTA in North America and MERCOSUR in South America) will exert a strong pressure for even more intensive resource use in the region.
These trends are facilitated by improved communications and road building, and the weakening of long-term geopolitical conflicts among the countries that share the continent. The expansion of agricultural frontiers, deforestation, mining, industrialization and urban development are among the more visible results of this pressure.
In nearly all cases, a growing demand for natural resources implies greater water consumption.