The IUCN Red List: Guiding Conservation for 50 years

This year is an important milestone for IUCN as it marks the 50th anniversary of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. By scientifically documenting on a case-by-case basis the nature and severity of threats to the survival of species, The IUCN Red List helps drive meaningful and appropriate conservation action.

Effective conservation planning requires a thorough understanding of the species in question. When we lack knowledge about a species, for example its habitat requirements and population trend, or if we do not understand its value and fragility, we are not in a good position to ensure its survival. By providing information on the ecology, link to human livelihoods, and extinction risk of species, The IUCN Red List serves as an indicator of the status of global biodiversity and as a crucial warning system.

So far we have assessed a little over 74,000 species. Several species groups, including mammals, birds, amphibians, sharks, conifers, cycads, and warm-water reef-building corals have already been comprehensively assessed.

We are proud of this achievement but this number still only represents about 5% of species that have been described so far and a much smaller percentage of the estimates for the total number of species globally. We must urgently expand The IUCN Red List to make it an even more powerful conservation tool.

Our goal is to assess 160,000 species by 2020, more than doubling the Red List’s current size. This will require a tremendous amount of work, from collecting, analysing and reviewing data to publication and dissemination. We need your help! Watch our new video, sign our pledge, and spread the word. Help us make The IUCN Red List a more complete ‘Barometer of Life’. The world’s species are counting on you.

The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of wild species and their links to livelihoods. Far more than a list of species and their status, it is a powerful tool to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation, critical to protecting the natural resources we need to survive. Help us reach our goal of assessing at least 160,000 species by 2020 to make The IUCN Red List a more complete ‘Barometer of Life’.

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