Header photo: Male Dugong and Golden trevally feeding on seagrass beds in Red Sea – Marsa Alam – Egypt (c) by cinoby from Getty Images Signature (via Canva Pro)

IUCN Red List: a comprehensive source of information

The IUCN Red List constitutes an important source for setting priorities in nature policy worldwide. The list provides detailed information on the conservation status of species, its range, threats, habitat and ecology of species, and conservation measures that can be taken to prevent extinction.

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‘Thanks to the IUCN NL Red List, we know what we should be concerned about and where our attention is urgently needed to prevent the destruction of our planet. It is a fantastic to-do list for the work of nature conservationists.’

Sir David Attenborough

Facts[1]Update 2023-1 https://www.iucn.nl/en/news/freshwater-fish-highlight-escalating-climate-impacts-on-species-iucn-red-list/

  • 44.016 species are threatened with extinction.
  • This is 28% of all 157.190 species evaluated by the IUCN.

Objective assessment system

The list is compiled using an objective system that assesses the risk of a species becoming extinct. The assessment is performed using a standardised process with objective criteria. This guarantees the highest standards of scientific documentation, information management, expert assessment and substantiation.

Red List categories

Following an extensive evaluation of, among other things, the rarity and distribution of the species and population trends, all species are allocated a category that indicates the extent of its risk of extinction. An overview of the categories can be found in the IUCN Red List brochure.

The Netherlands’ Red Lists

In addition to the international Red List, regional and national Red Lists have also been compiled. They provide information about the status of species per region or country. In the Netherlands, Red Lists have been compiled for 18 groups of species. They indicate which species are endangered in the Netherlands. A species that is endangered in the Netherlands is not necessarily endangered on the global or European levels. For the public authorities, which have the Red Lists compiled and officially published, the Red Lists represent an important source for setting priorities in nature policy.

Frequently asked questions about the IUCN Red List

  • How is the IUCN Red List used?

    The Red List shows how a species is doing and where action needs to be taken to prevent that species – the building bricks of nature – becoming extinct. The IUCN Red List constitutes an important source for setting priorities in nature policy worldwide.

    You can find more information about how the Red List is used in the IUCN Red List brochure and on the website www.iucnredlist.org.

  • What are the causes of species being threatened with extinction?

    The disappearance and fragmentation of habitats resulting from human actions – deforestation and draining marshland for farming, urbanisation and industrial development – form the greatest threat to animal and plant species.

    Besides the loss of habitats, there are other threats, such as overexploitation (overfishing or overly intensive hunting) and pollution. Non-native species introduced by man can also pose a threat. Native species have to compete with these alien species for food and living space, etc.

    What’s more, climate change plays an ever greater role. For example, coral is extremely sensitive to just the right temperature. As a result of climate change the sea is heating up, resulting in the death of the coral.

  • Where can I find more information about the IUCN Red List?

    More information about the IUCN Red List can be found on the website www.iucnredlist.org

  • Which categories does the IUCN Red List contain?

    The IUCN NL Red List distinguishes between the following categories:
    – Extinct – there is no doubt that the very last specimen is dead
    – Extinct in the wild – the only remaining specimens are those bred or kept in captivity
    – Critically endangered – a species at an extremely high risk of extinction
    – Endangered – a species at a very high risk of extinction
    – Vulnerable – a species that is deteriorating considerably and runs the risk of extinction
    – Near threatened – numbers of a species are decreasing without the species being directly at risk but there is an increasing risk of them being threatened with extinction
    – Least concern – a species that is widespread and well represented
    – Data deficient – there is not enough data available to assess the status of the species
    – Not evaluated – the species has not been assessed