Conservation status

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Conservation status
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Lower Risk

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Comparison of Red List classes above
and NatureServe status below
Status TNC.svg

The conservation status of a group of organisms (for instance, a species) indicates whether the group still exists and how likely the group is to become extinct in the near future. Many factors are taken into account when assessing conservation status: not simply the number of individuals remaining, but the overall increase or decrease in the population over time, breeding success rates, and known threats. Various systems of conservation status are in use at international, multi-country, national and local levels, as well as for consumer use such as sustainable seafood advisory lists and certification. The two international systems are by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).


International systems

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature is the best known worldwide conservation status listing and ranking system. Species are classified by the IUCN Red List into nine groups set through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation. [1] [2]

Also included are species that have gone extinct since 1500 CE. [3] When discussing the IUCN Red List, the official term "threatened" is a grouping of three categories: critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) went into force in 1975. It aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Many countries require CITES permits when importing plants and animals listed on CITES.

Multi-country systems

In the European Union (EU), the Birds Directive and Habitats Directive are the legal instruments which evaluate the conservation status within the EU of species and habitats.

NatureServe conservation status focuses on Latin America, the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. It has been developed by scientists from NatureServe, The Nature Conservancy, and a network of natural heritage programs and data centers. It is increasingly integrated with the IUCN Red List system. Its categories for species include: presumed extinct (GX), possibly extinct (GH), critically imperiled (G1), imperiled (G2), vulnerable (G3), apparently secure (G4), and secure (G5). [4] The system also allows ambiguous or uncertain ranks including inexact numeric ranks (e.g. G2?), and range ranks (e.g. G2G3) for when the exact rank is uncertain. NatureServe adds a qualifier for captive or cultivated only (C), which has a similar meaning to the IUCN Red List extinct in the wild (EW) status.

The Red Data Book of the Russian Federation is used within the Russian Federation, and also accepted in parts of Africa.

National systems

In Australia, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) describes lists of threatened species, ecological communities and threatening processes. The categories resemble those of the 1994 IUCN Red List Categories & Criteria (version 2.3). Prior to the EPBC Act, a simpler classification system was used by the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. Some state and territory governments also have their own systems for conservation status. The codes for the Western Australian conservation system are given at Declared Rare and Priority Flora List (abbreviated to DECF when using in a taxobox).

In Belgium, the Flemish Research Institute for Nature and Forest publishes an online set of more than 150 nature indicators in Dutch. [5]

In Canada, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is a group of experts that assesses and designates which wild species are in some danger of disappearing from Canada. [6] Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), it is up to the federal government, which is politically accountable, to legally protect species assessed by COSEWIC.

In China, the State, provinces and some counties have determined their key protected wildlife species. There is the China red data book.

In Finland, many species are protected under the Nature Conservation Act, and through the EU Habitats Directive and EU Birds Directive. [7]

In Germany, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation publishes "red lists of endangered species".

India has the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, Amended 2003 and the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

In Japan, the Ministry of Environment publishes a Threatened Wildlife of Japan Red Data Book. [8]

In the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality publishes a list of threatened species, and conservation is enforced by the Nature Conservation Act 1998. Species are also protected through the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives.

In New Zealand, the Department of Conservation publishes the New Zealand Threat Classification System lists. As of January 2008 threatened species or subspecies are assigned one of seven categories: Nationally Critical, Nationally Endangered, Nationally Vulnerable, Declining, Recovering, Relict, or Naturally Uncommon. [9] While the classification looks only at a national level, many species are unique to New Zealand, and species which are secure overseas are noted as such.

In Russia, the Red Book of Russian Federation came out in 2001, it contains categories defining preservation status for different species. In it there are 8 taxa of amphibians, 21 taxa of reptiles, 128 taxa of birds, and 74 taxa of mammals, in total 231. There are also more than 30 regional red books, for example the red book of the Altaic region which came out in 1994.

In South Africa, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, established under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004, [10] is responsible for drawing up lists of affected species, and monitoring compliance with CITES decisions. It is envisaged that previously diverse Red lists would be more easily kept current, both technically and financially.

In Thailand, the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act of BE 2535 defines fifteen reserved animal species and two classes of protected species, of which hunting, breeding, possession, and trade are prohibited or restricted by law. The National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is responsible for the regulation of these activities.

In Ukraine, the Ministry of Environment Protection maintains list of endangered species (divided into seven categories from "0" - extinct to "VI" - rehabilitated) and publishes it in the Red Book of Ukraine.

In the United States of America, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 created the Endangered Species List.

Consumer guides

Some consumer guides for seafood, such as Seafood Watch, divide fish and other sea creatures into three categories, analogous to conservation status categories:

The categories do not simply reflect the imperilment of individual species, but also consider the environmental impacts of how and where they are fished, such as through bycatch or ocean bottom trawlers. Often groups of species are assessed rather than individual species (e.g. squid, prawns).

The Marine Conservation Society has five levels of ratings for seafood species, as displayed on their FishOnline website. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

This is an index of conservation topics. It is an alphabetical index of articles relating to conservation biology and conservation of the natural environment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">IUCN Red List</span> Inventory of the global conservation status of biological species

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, also known as the IUCN Red List or Red Data Book, founded in 1964, is an inventory of the global conservation status and extinction risk of biological species. A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries and organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Threatened species</span> IUCN conservation category

Threatened species are any species which are vulnerable to extinction in the near future. Species that are threatened are sometimes characterised by the population dynamics measure of critical depensation, a mathematical measure of biomass related to population growth rate. This quantitative metric is one method of evaluating the degree of endangerment.

A rare species is a group of organisms that are very uncommon, scarce, or infrequently encountered. This designation may be applied to either a plant or animal taxon, and is distinct from the term endangered or threatened. Designation of a rare species may be made by an official body, such as a national government, state, or province. The term more commonly appears without reference to specific criteria. The International Union for Conservation of Nature does not normally make such designations, but may use the term in scientific discussion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Least-concern species</span> IUCN conservation category

A least-concern species is a species that has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as evaluated as not being a focus of species conservation because the specific species is still plentiful in the wild. They do not qualify as threatened, near threatened, or conservation dependent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Conservation-dependent species</span> IUCN conservation category

A conservation-dependent species is a species which has been categorized as "Conservation Dependent" ("LR/cd") by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as dependent on conservation efforts to prevent it from becoming endangered. A species that is reliant on the conservation attempts of humans is considered conservation dependent. Such species must be the focus of a continuing species-specific and/or habitat-specific conservation program, the cessation of which would result in the species qualifying for one of the threatened categories within a period of five years. The determination of status is constantly monitored and can change.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Near-threatened species</span> IUCN conservation category

A near-threatened species is a species which has been categorized as "Near Threatened" (NT) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as that may be vulnerable to endangerment in the near future, but it does not currently qualify for the threatened status.

An endangered species recovery plan, also known as a species recovery plan, species action plan, species conservation action, or simply recovery plan, is a document describing the current status, threats and intended methods for increasing rare and endangered species population sizes. Recovery plans act as a foundation from which to build a conservation effort to preserve animals which are under threat of extinction. More than 320 species have died out and the world is continuing a rate of 1 species becoming extinct every two years. Climate change is also linked to several issues relating to extinct species and animals' quality of life.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Critically Endangered</span> IUCN conservation category

An IUCN Red List Critically Endangered species is one that has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. As of 2021, of the 120,372 species currently tracked by the IUCN, there are 8,404 species that are considered to be Critically Endangered.

The ICUN has many ranks that define an animal's population and risk of extinction. Species are classified into one of nine Red List Categories: Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, Least Concern, Data Deficient, and Not Evaluated. They formerly used a identification called "lower risk" to describe some animals.

<i>Threatened Species Protection Act 1995</i> Act of the Parliament of Tasmania, Australia

The Threatened Species Protection Act 1995, is an act of the Parliament of Tasmania that provides the statute relating to conservation of flora and fauna. Its long title is An Act to provide for the protection and management of threatened native flora and fauna and to enable and promote the conservation of native flora and fauna. It received the royal assent on 14 November 1995.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Extinct in the wild</span> IUCN conservation category

A species that is extinct in the wild (EW) is one that has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as known only by living members kept in captivity or as a naturalized population outside its historic range due to massive habitat loss.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada is an independent committee of wildlife experts and scientists whose "raison d'être is to identify species at risk" in Canada. It designates the conservation status of wild species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Zealand Threat Classification System</span> System to assess the conservation priorities of New Zealand species

The New Zealand Threat Classification System is used by the Department of Conservation to assess conservation priorities of species in New Zealand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Endangered species</span> Species of organisms facing a very high risk of extinction

An endangered species is a species that is very likely to become extinct in the near future, either worldwide or in a particular political jurisdiction. Endangered species may be at risk due to factors such as habitat loss, poaching and invasive species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List lists the global conservation status of many species, and various other agencies assess the status of species within particular areas. Many nations have laws that protect conservation-reliant species which, for example, forbid hunting, restrict land development, or create protected areas. Some endangered species are the target of extensive conservation efforts such as captive breeding and habitat restoration.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vulnerable species</span> IUCN conservation category

A vulnerable species is a species which has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being threatened with extinction unless the circumstances that are threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Not evaluated</span> IUCN Red List category

A not evaluated (NE) species is one which has been categorized under the IUCN Red List of threatened species as not yet having been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

An out-of-danger species is an animal or plant species formerly categorized as Rare, Vulnerable, or Endangered that has since been removed from these lists because the species' survival has been relatively secured, e.g. Ginkgo biloba. Often known as a delisted species, these animals have been moved out of the Rare, Vulnerable, or Endangered categories through conservation efforts and government policymaking to ensure their survival and population growth. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) established it's list of endangered species in 1964, subsequently becoming a global authority on wildlife conservation. The following year, the United States created the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to act as a federal authority on endangered species. Currently, both international and domestic organizations implement recovery efforts and track species' population growth, delisting when necessary. Removing a species from the endangered species list is generally a slow process; most organizations and governments require long periods of observation both before and after delisting. There have been numerous efforts to delist endangered species, with both international and country-wide recovery plans being regularly implemented. These programs have led to the recovery of dozens of species, but their overall effectiveness remains contested.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Endangered species (IUCN status)</span> Species which have been categorized as very likely to become extinct in the near future

Endangered species, as classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are species which have been categorized as very likely to become extinct in their known native ranges in the near future. On the IUCN Red List, endangered is the second-most severe conservation status for wild populations in the IUCN's schema after critically endangered. In 2012, the IUCN Red List featured 3,079 animal and 2,655 plant species as endangered worldwide. The figures for 1998 were 1,102 and 1,197 respectively.


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  2. IUCN. (2012) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1 Archived 2016-01-28 at the Wayback Machine Second edition. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. ISBN   9782831714356.
  3. IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee (2019), Guidelines for Using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (PDF) (14 ed.), p. 7
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  10. "Welcome to the official South African government online site! - South African Government" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 June 2007. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  11. "Seafood Recommendations: Our Seafood Ratings". Archived from the original on 19 June 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  12. "Fish ratings". FishOnline. Marine Conservation Society. Retrieved March 28, 2013.