And what does a Red List assessment involve?
An IUCN Red List assessment tells us the relative extinction risk of a species. Each assessment includes an account with information on the distribution (including a distribution map), population, habitats and ecology, use and trade, threats, and conservation and research actions relevant to the species. This information is then used to assign species to a category of extinction risk based on data driven and objective criteria. The criteria are designed to identify species at higher relative risk of extinction based on their population size, population trend, or geographic range, together with information on threats acting on the species. Species assessed as Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN), or Critically Endangered (CR) are described as threatened. However, the Red List isn’t just limited to those species at high risk of extinction – it includes information on all species that have been assessed against the categories and criteria, including those assessed as Least Concern (LC) and considered to be at low relative risk of extinction, for example.
We work with species experts and conservation scientists to draft Red List assessments based on the best available knowledge at the time of assessment. Anyone with knowledge of the global population of a species can be an assessor, but in practice most assessments are drafted by members of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Specialist Groups. Once drafted, assessments are reviewed by independent experts to ensure the data presented are correct and complete. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, these first steps (drafting and review) often took place in workshops where we gathered species experts to assess the freshwater species native to a particular region and/or taxonomic group, but at present assessments are completed remotely by individuals or groups of experts collaborating online. Once reviewed, assessments are submitted to the IUCN Red List Unit in Cambridge, UK for final consistency checks before being published on the IUCN Red List website, which is recognised as an online scientific journal.
Once published, IUCN Red List data are available for many uses by a number of sectors: education and public awareness, scientific analyses, influencing conservation policy, informing conservation planning and priority setting, assisting with private sector decision making, and more. To search for a species on the IUCN Red List, simply enter its scientific or common name into the search bar at the top of the website. If the species has been assessed for the Red List, you will be taken to its species account.