IUCN Red List Update June 2011
22 June 2011
The focus of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Update 2011 is centered on animal species with the recovery of the African Oryx from near extinction to a wild population of 1,000 individuals. Another focus is amphibians and a completed assessment for the conservation status of the entire lobsters species.
Co-incidentally, BGCI working with Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh have recently completed a Red List for Rhododendron report.
Biodiversity loss is one of the world’s most pressing crises, with many species declining to critically low levels. Numerous extinctions are taking place unnoticed, and the number of species classified as Critically Endangered (those at most severe risk of becoming extinct) is increasing. Estimations from the IUCN Red List indicate that extinctions are happening at anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times the ‘background’ or natural rate. The causes are many, including habitat destruction, land conversion for agriculture and development, climate change, pollution, illegal wildlife trade, and the spread of invasive species.
Dr Tim Entwisle, Director of Conservation, Living Collections and Estates at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says, “Recent work carried out by Kew, in partnership with IUCN, estimates that one fifth of plants are listed as being threatened with extinction. Habitat loss, climate change, over-harvesting, disease, and the spread of invasive aliens, are all contributing to their demise and scientific evidence is vital if we are to monitor, understand and respond to the challenges facing plants on earth.”
Of the 19 species of amphibian (frogs, toads and salamanders) that have been added to the IUCN Red List this year, eight are listed as Critically Endangered, including Atelopus patazensis, a species of harlequin toad from Peru, and Dendrotriton chujorum, a dwarf species of salamander from Guatemala. Amphibians remain one of the most threatened species groups with an estimated 41% at risk of extinction; the main threats they face include habitat loss, pollution, disease and invasive species.
“The key to halting the extinction crisis is to target efforts towards eradicating the major threats faced by species and their environment; only then can their future be secured. The IUCN Red List acts as a gateway to such efforts, by providing decision makers with a goldmine of information not only on the current status of the species, but also on existing threats and the conservation actions required,” says Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission.
An assessment of all 248 lobster species has been completed, with 35% being classified as Data Deficient, including the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus). This species shows decreasing populations as a result of over-exploitation, but unfortunately very little else is known about it. An estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide rely on marine species for food and livelihoods, so obtaining reliable information on catch levels is essential.
“It is extremely important that we keep pushing forward with surveys of little-known species, as without adequate data, we cannot determine their risk of extinction and therefore cannot develop or implement effective conservation actions which could prevent the species from disappearing altogether,” says Jane Smart, Director, IUCN’s Global Species Programme.
Background information for the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Global figures for 2011.1 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:
Red Listing Process
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (or the IUCN Red List) is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant and animal species. It is based on an objective system for assessing the risk of extinction of a species should no conservation action be taken.
The IUCN Red List is a joint effort between IUCN and its Species Survival Commission, working with its Red List partners BirdLife International; Botanic Gardens Conservation International; Conservation International; NatureServe; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Sapienza University of Rome; Texas A&M University; Wildscreen; and Zoological Society of London.”
For more information see the IUCN Red List website http://www.iucnredlist.org/
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