International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • Type: International organization
  • Primary Focus: Nature conservation, biodiversity
  • Location: Gland, Switzerland
  • Members: 1300
  • Area served: Worldwide
  • Key members: Grethel Aguilar (Director General a.i.) and Zhang Xinsheng (President)
  • Revenue: CHF 114 million / US$ 116 million (2013)
  • Employees: Over 900 (worldwide)
  • Website:

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization that works in the aspect of sustainable use of natural resources and nature conservation.

The IUCN is involved in research, data gathering and analysis, advocacy, field projects, and education. The mission of the IUCN is to ” encourage, influence, and assist societies around the world to promote nature conservation and ensure that any natural resources they use are both equitable and ecologically sustainable.

The IUCN was Founded on the 5th of October 1948 as International Union for the Protection of Nature in Fontainebleau, France.

Over the last ten years, the IUCN has broadened its focus beyond the conservation of ecology and has now incorporated issues that are related to sustainable development in its projects.

While IUCN does not aim to mobilize the general public in support of nature conservation, It tries to influence the actions of the business, governments, and other stakeholders by offering advice and information, and by building partnerships.

The IUCN is most famous for its compiling and publishing of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The red list is one that reveals the conservation status of species around the world after proper investigation.

The IUCN Red List

The IUCN Red List is known as the only recognized authoritative guide to the ecological status diversity across the globe. A series of Regional Red Lists are provided by organizations or countries, which evaluates the risk of extinction to all species within a political management unit.

At present, there are over 105,700 species featured on The IUCN Red List, with over 28,000 species likely to go on extinction, including 33% of reef-building corals, 34% of conifers, 40% of amphibians, 25% of mammals and 14% of birds.

Species on the IUCN Red List are classified into nine groups, specified by criteria like population size, rate of decline, area of geographic distribution, distribution fragmentation, and degree of population.

There is much emphasis on the acceptability of using any criteria in the lack of high-quality data, and that includes suspicion and potential future threats, provided these suspicions can reasonably be supported.

The nine groups of the IUCN Red list;

  1. Extinct (EX) – beyond a reasonable doubt that the species no longer exists.
  2. Extinct in the wild (EW) – species in this category survive only in captivity, cultivation, or outside the native range, as discovered after exhaustive surveys.
  3. Critically endangered (CR) – in a particular and extremely critical state.
  4. Endangered (EN) – the very significant risk of extinction in the wild, meets any of the criteria A to E for Endangered.
  5. Vulnerable (VU) – meets one of the five red list criteria and thus considered to be at high risk of unnatural (human-caused) extinction without further human intervention.
  6. Near threatened (NT) – close to being at high risk of extinction soon.
  7. Least concern (LC) – unlikely to become extinct in the near future.
  8. Data deficient (DD)
  9. Not evaluated (NE)

In the IUCN Red List, the animals classified as “threatened” an in the categories of Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable.

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