The IUCN Red List

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the extinction risk of plant and animal species.

The goal of The IUCN Red List is to provide information and analyses on the status, trends and threats to species in order to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation.

To achieve this goal, The IUCN Red List aims to:

  • Establish a baseline from which to monitor the change in status of species;
  • Provide a global context for the establishment of conservation priorities at the local level;
  • Monitor, on a continuing basis, the status of a representative selection of species (as biodiversity indicators) that cover all the major ecosystems of the world.

From its small beginning, The IUCN Red List has grown in size and complexity and now plays an increasingly prominent role in guiding conservation activities of governments, NGOs and scientific institutions. The introduction in 1994 of a scientifically rigorous approach for determining risk of extinction applicable to all species has become a world standard.

Several taxonomic groups have been comprehensively assessed including mammals, birds, amphibians, freshwater crabs, warm-water reef-building corals, sharks and rays, groupers, wrasses, lobsters, cycads and conifers, and many more are underway.

In order to produce The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, the IUCN Global Species Programme, working with the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) and members of IUCN, draws on and mobilizes a network of scientists and partner organizations working in almost every country in the world, who collectively hold what is likely the most complete scientific knowledge base on the biology and conservation status of species.

The IUCN Red List is underpinned by information management tools (the Species Information Service – SIS, ESRI spatial software) which facilitate the collection, management and processing of species data from compilation of data to publication on The IUCN Red List.