The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species


The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, managed by IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC), provides taxonomic, conservation status, distribution and natural history information on plants and animals that have been globally evaluated using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Inaugurated in 1963, as of July 2013 the Red List contained entries (species accounts) for more than 70,000 plant and animal species, including (with the exception of very recently-described species) all known amphibians, mammals, birds and conifers.

 

The primary purpose of the Red List is to catalogue and highlight those plants and animals that face a high risk of global extinction, which it accomplishes through the use of a set of objective, standardised Categories and Criteria, defined by quantitative thresholds and based on data collected in consultation with expert specialists. This objectivity is the key reason for the IUCN Red List’s global acceptance as a barometer of extinction risk.

 

The resulting data has proven to be valuable to policymakers as it can be used both to assist in priority-setting and, as species are reassessed or conservation measures proposed by experts involved in assessments, both to target resources for conservation and to monitor the effectiveness of those measures over time. The wealth of data made available by global species assessments has allowed global mapping of threats to biodiversity, regional projections of the likely impacts of climate change across taxonomic groups, analyses of the drivers of extinction, and the identification of ecosystems and regions at risk.

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