Lesson 7 of 30

5. IUCN Red List

The latest update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. It represents that more and more species evaluated with the status of threatened with extinction.

  • The list assessed 1,05,732 species – this is the largest of such assessment of species, out of which 28,338 species are threatening with extinction.

  • The updated list carries out an alarming rate of decline of freshwater and marine species. For instance, over 50 % of Japan’s endemic freshwater fishes are under the threat of extinction.

  • Wedge fishes and giant guitar fishes, collectively termed as Rhino Rays due to their elongated snouts, have been labeled as the ‘most imperiled marine fish families in the world’.

  • The main drivers of this decline are the loss of free-flowing rivers and increasing agricultural and urban pollution.

  • Close to 50% of the species assessed by IUCN are under the ‘Least Concern’ category. It means the rest 50% is under threat of decline.

  • Of the total assessed, 873 are already extinct while 6,127 are critically endangered.
  • This Red List update confirms the findings of the IPBES Global Biodiversity Assessment.

  • The list explicitly indicates that humans are overexploiting wildlife.

  • According to the global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020)’s Target 12, the extinction of known threatened species should be ‘prevented’ by 2020. The target also includes an improvement in the conservation status of species.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature

  • IUCN is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organizations.

  • Created in 1948, it is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures required to safeguard it.

  • Its headquarter in Switzerland.

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.

  • It uses a set of quantitative methods to assess the extinction risk of species. Hence, these methods are relevant to most species and all the regions of the world.

  • The IUCN Red List Categories describe the extinction risk of species assessed. Nine categories extend from NE (Not Evaluated) to EX (Extinct).

  • Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) and Vulnerable (VU) species have examined to be threatened with extinction.

  • To the status of biological diversity, it is the most authoritative guide.

  • It is also a key indicator for the SDGs and Aichi Target.