IUCN Red List: Everything You Need to Know

IUCN Red List

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species was established in 1964.

It is the world’s most extensive record of the entire conservation status of biological species.

IUCN makes use of a set of models to analyze the extinction danger of numerous species and subspecies.

These standards are related to every species as well as regions around the world. 

With its powerful scientific ground, the IUCN Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological variety. 

A progression of the regional red list is generated by nations or institutions which evaluate the risk of extinction of species within a political supervision unit.

Their goal is to reveal the urgency of preservation problems of any species & subspecies to society and policymakers. They also help the international community to minimize species extinction.

According to IUCN,  the formally asserted objectives of the Red List are to give scientifically-based information on the status of species along with the subspecies at a global level.

This allows them to draw the attention of the world to the extent and significance of endangered biodiversity.

IUCN also influence national & international policy & decision-making and enables them to provide information to supervise activities to protect biological diversity.

Prominent species investigators include BirdLife International, the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, and the Institute of Zoology (the research district of the Zoological Society of London).

Also in charge of species investigation are many Specialist Groups within the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). Inspections by these organizations account for almost half the species on the Red List.

The IUCN seeks to possess a variety of all species re-examined every five years if feasible or every ten years.

This is accomplished via IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Specialist Groups, which are the Red List Authorities accountable for a species, group of species, or particular geographic locales.

The quantity of species included on the Red List has been rising with time.  As of 2019, out of 105,000 species studied, about 28,338 are deemed at risk of extinction.

This is as a result of human activity, especially hunting, overfishing, and land development.

History of the Red List

Here is the record of Red List of Threatened species released so far by IUCN:

  • 1964 Red List of Threatened Plants         

The 1964 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants made use of the obsolete pre-criteria Red List inspection method. Plants documented might not appear in the existing Red List.

IUCN advises that it is appropriate to review both the online Red List as well as the 1997 plants Red List publication.

  • 2006 Red List publication

The 2006 Red List was published on the 4th of May 2006. It assessed around 40,168 species as a whole, including an additional 2,160 subspecies, diversity, marine stocks, and subpopulations.

  • 2007 Red List publication

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) announced the 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species on the 12th of September 2007.

In this publication, they raised their category of both the western lowland gorilla and the Cross River gorilla from threatened to critically endangered because of the Ebola virus, poaching, and many other factors.

Russ Mittermeier, who is the chief of Swiss-based IUCN’s Primate Specialist Group, asserted that about 16,306 species are threatened with extinction, 188 more than in 2006 (a sum of 41,415 species on the Red List).

The Red List constitutes the Sumatran orangutan in the “Critically Threatened” category and the Bornean orangutan in the “Endangered” section.

  • 2008 Red List release

The 2008 Red List was published on the 6th of October 2008 at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. It confirmed an extinction situation, with nearly one in four mammals at risk of perishing forever.

The survey reveals at least 1,141 of the 5,487 mammals on the planet are known to be endangered with extinction, and 836 are recorded as Data Deficient.

  • 2012 Red List release

The Red List of 2012 was published on the 19th of July 2012 at Rio+20 Earth Summit. In this release, approximately 2,000 species were added, with four species to the extinct list, and 2 to the rediscovered category.

The IUCN evaluated a sum of 63,837 species, which indicated about 19,817 species are endangered with extinction, about 3,947 were said to be categorized as “critically endangered,” and 5,766 as threatened.

Also, more than 10,000 species are recorded as “vulnerable.” At-risk is 41% of amphibian “variety, 33% of reef-building corals, 25% of mammals, 30% of conifers, and 13% of birds.

The IUCN Red List has documented 132 variety of plants as well as animals from India as “Critically Endangered.”


The IUCN Red List categorizes species into nine different groups, determined through standards that include population size, area of geographic distribution, rate of decline, and degree of population & dispersion fragmentation.

There is an urgency on the acceptability of assigning any measures in the shortage of high-quality data, including uncertainty and likely future dangers, as long as it can be supported.

The following is the IUCN Red List of plants and animals according to their category:

  • Extinct (EX) – In this category, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the species is no longer in existence.
  • Extinct in the wild (EW) –  Species in this class usually survive only in captivity or outside the native span, as concluded after extensive studies.
  • Critically endangered (CR) – Species are in a particular and extremely critical state
  • Endangered (EN) –  Species in this class are at great danger of extinction in the wild, and meets any of standards A to E for Endangered.
  • Vulnerable (VU) – Species here meets one of the five red list criteria and are contemplated to be at an elevated risk of human-caused extinction.
  • Near threatened (NT) – Species in this group are close to being at increased risk of extinction soon.
  • Least concern (LC) – Species in this group are unlikely to become extinct in the nearest future.
  • Data deficient (DD)
  • Not evaluated (NE)
IUCN Red List

In the IUCN Red List, “threatened” adopts the classes of Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable.

1994 classifications and 2001 context

The obsolete 1994 chart has just a single “Lower Risk” category, which included three subcategories:

  • Conservation Dependent (LR/cd)
  • Near Threatened (LR/nt)
  • Least Concern (LR/lc)

In the 2001 context, “Near Threatened” and “Least Concern” became their classifications, while “Conservation Dependent” was abolished, its contents were incorporated into “Near Threatened.”

Possibly extinct

The brand of “possibly extinct” (PE) is employed by Birdlife International, which is the Red List Authority for birds. BirdLife International has suggested that PE should become an accepted name for Critically Endangered species.

This has now been embraced, alongside a “Possibly Extinct in the Wild” tag for species with populations living in captivity but is prone to be extinct in the wild.

The IUCN Red List focuses on the continuous decrease of Earth’s biodiversity and the impact humans have on life on the planet. It provides a generally approved criterion that can be used to measure the conservation status of species with time.

By 2019, 96,500 species had been evaluated by utilizing the IUCN Red List classifications and standards. Also, more than 26,500 species of animals, plants, and others fall into the threatened groups (CR, EN, and VU).

Currently, the list is available online to the world, and scientists can assess the fraction of species in a given category as well as how these percentages vary with time. They can also evaluate the dangers and conservation models that underpin practical trends.

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