The Assessment Process

The Red List Process in a nutshell


The process to determine a species’ risk of extinction involves the collection and compilation of data, and the subsequent evaluation of this information against the Red List Criteria to establish the appropriate Category. This process can be summarized as follows:


    1. Pre-Assessment: This is the first step in the process, and involves the compilation of data for any one given assessment (i.e. the creation of draft assessments in IUCN’s Species Information Service [SIS]). It can be carried out by Red List Authorities, IUCN Species Programme staff, and/or other collaborators, such as interns or Specialist Group members. For the Global Reptile Assessment that is the focus of this website, accounts will typically be prepared by IUCN Species Programme Staff, the Coordinator of the Snake and Lizard Red List Authority, or external collaborators, although often with input from members of relevant Specialist Groups and experts on specific species. Typically this step also involves the development of a draft map and a compilation of relevant questions for experts involved in the assessment in question. In instances where a species is being reassessed, reassessments would build on existing published assessments and maps, and would be modified according to new data.
    2. Assessment: This step involves sharing the draft assessment with experts and determining an appropriate threat category based on the criteria that are triggered in the course of the assessment. For the large numbers of assessments treated by Global Species Assessments this stage in the process is usually conducted through an assessment workshop. For areas where for logistical reasons this is not feasible, this stage will be conducted using the new Reptile Assessment Forum on this website. Assessors are asked to provide feedback either during working sessions (in a workshop setting), or over a specified period of time to (for forum-based assessments), after which any new feedback is incorporated into the assessment or discussed (if there are differences of opinion), and the assessment is checked for consistency prior to being sent out for review.
    3. Review (currently called “evaluation” in the Red List and SIS, this is in fact a peer review process): Until recently, the review process consisted of contacting two independent reviewers (either members of Red List Authorities or Species Programme staff) are contacted and asked if they would be willing to review the assessment to confirm both the accuracy of the data and that IUCN Red List Criteria have been correctly applied. The current IUCN Guidelines now require only a single reviewer, and so some recent assessments may only have a single reviewer listed. A determined period of time is agreed on for providing the review, and where there are two reviewers they are encouraged to discuss the assessment. If there are any differences of opinion with the assessment, the reviewers then discuss these differences with the person who has been managing the assessment, and if needed, the assessment manager gets back to assessors with outstanding questions or issues, which can then be addressed by the assessors. Once any outstanding questions are addressed they are sent back to reviewers, and if they consider the issues to be resolved, the assessment is then passed and tagged as ready for publication.
    4. Submission and consistency check: All passed assessments are placed in a specific working set within SIS prior to predetermined lockdown dates. The working set’s manager, typically a Red List Authority Coordinator, then contacts the Red List Unit in Cambridge, UK, and provides the Unit with the name of the working set being submitted and a list of the species contained within. A staff member then goes over each assessment to determine that all relevant fields have been completed and that the assessment is consistent with the documentation provided. If there are any observations on any assessment(s), the staff member will get back to the RLA Coordinator and the Coordinator will in turn contact the assessment manager for any required follow-up. If there are no observations, then nothing more is required on the RLA’s part, and the assessment will be prepared for publication in the Red List.
    5. Publication: Passed assessments will go online on predetermined dates for specific Red List update releases. So, even if an assessment is completed and passed in, for example, January, it will not be go live until a pre-scheduled update is published, which may be several months later.