At BGCI, we work on conservation prioritisation by measuring extinction risk through red list assessments.
BGCI works to conserve plant diversity worldwide, but with over 400,000 known plant species globally, which species are most in need of conservation action? How do plant conservationists effectively prioritise conservation action to ensure that limited resources are distributed to where they are most needed?
Estimates indicate that as many as one in five plant species are threatened with extinction, due to a range of threats to plants and their habitats (habitat loss, overexploitation, disease, pollution, climate change, etc.). To effectively conserve plant diversity worldwide, we need tools and available information to be able to prioritise which plants to focus our conservation action on.
At BGCI, we work on conservation prioritisation by measuring extinction risk through red list assessments. Plant red list assessments determine the conservation status of plants in the wild by predicting the probability of extinction within a specific time period. In addition, we use information from the collections of plants being conserved in botanic gardens, arboreta and seed banks around the world to carry out ex situ surveys . These surveys identify species which are currently found in these institutions and those species not currently being conserved ex situ.
Conservation prioritisation is complex, and needs to balance a range factors, including extinction risk, but also cost, chance of success and many other factors. However, both red list assessments and ex situ surveys are used for prioritisation of conservation action to make better-informed conservation decisions.