0
April 7, 2021 in

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is an organization that tries to "influence, encourage and assist societies to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature". The IUCN is one of the most influential conservation organizations in the world and retains United Nations observer status. They are probably most well-known for their comprehensive inventories of the conservation status of both ecological sites and biological species.

There has been criticism towards the IUCN over the years however, with the most scathing ones being made over the fact that they have worked closely with environmentally-destructive corporations such as Shell and Coca Cola. Their 2012 World Conservation Congress was also held on Jeju Island in South Korea, which is the location of an extremely controversial US military base that still remains in place despite the mobilization of environmental and anti-war activists. To add insult to injury, Jeju island was the site of a massacre in 1949 where the South Korean government, with the backing of the United States, killed up to 30000 people (10% of Jeju's population).



IUCN Protected Areas

IUCN protected area categories are categories that are used to classify protected areas in order to help conserve their natural environments and the biodiversity of their ecosystems. The areas include both terrestrial as well as marine environments, all of which have been added to a comprehensive online database that is called the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). This database has been linked to a visual interface that can be accessed via 'Protected Planet'. The categories that are used to classify the protected areas are as follows:

Cat.Description
1aCategory Ia: Strict Nature Reserve Protected areas that are strictly set aside to protect biodiversity and also possibly geological/geomorphological features, where human visitation, use and impacts are strictly controlled and limited to ensure protection of the conservation values. Such protected areas can serve as indispensable reference areas for scientific research and monitoring.
1bCategory Ib: Wilderness Area Protected areas that are usually large unmodified or slightly modified areas, retaining their natural character and influence, without permanent or significant human habitation, which are protected and managed so as to preserve their natural condition.
2Category II: National Park Large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.
3Category III: Natural Monument or Feature Protected areas set aside to protect a specific natural monument, which can be a landform, sea mount, submarine cavern, geological feature such as a cave or even a living feature such as an ancient grove. They are generally quite small protected areas and often have high visitor value.
4Category IV: Habitat or Species Management Area Protected areas aiming to protect particular species or habitats and management reflects this priority. Many category IV protected areas will need regular, active interventions to address the requirements of particular species or to maintain habitats, but this is not a requirement of the category.
5Category V: Protected Landscape or Seascape A protected area where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value: and where safeguarding the integrity of this interaction is vital to protecting and sustaining the area and its associated nature conservation and other values.
6Category VI: Protected Area with Sustainable Use of Natural resources Protected areas that conserve ecosystems and habitats, together with associated cultural values and traditional natural resource management systems. They are generally large, with most of the area in a natural condition, where a proportion is under sustainable natural resource management and where low-level non-industrial use of natural resources compatible with nature conservation is seen as one of the main aims of the area.



IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species


The IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species, also referred to as the 'Red Data Book', is the most comprehensive inventory of the conservation status of biological species in the world. The Redlist has also been called the 'Barometer of Life' as it "measures the pressures acting on species, which guides and informs conservation actions to help prevent extinctions". In order to do this, a set of criteria is used that evaluates the extinction risk of species, the summary of which can be found below. A detailed breakdown and explanation of the criteria can also be accessed here. The criteria is also used in my Taxonomy Index.

Cat.Description
Extinct A taxon is Extinct when there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. A taxon is presumed Extinct when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a time frame appropriate to the taxon’s life cycle and life form.
Extinct in the Wild A taxon is Extinct in the Wild when it is known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalized population (or populations) well outside the past range. A taxon is presumed Extinct in the Wild when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a time frame appropriate to the taxon’s life cycle and life form.
Critically Endangered A taxon is Critically Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Critically Endangered, and it is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
Endangered A taxon is Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Endangered, and it is therefore considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
Vulnerable A taxon is Vulnerable when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Vulnerable, and it is therefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Near Threatened A taxon is Near Threatened when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.
Least Concern A taxon is Least Concern when it has been evaluated against the criteria and does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.


Criteria A to E
A - Reduction in population size (over the last 10 years or three generations)≥90%≥70%≥50%
B - Geographic range<100 km²<5000 km²<20000 km²
C - Population size of mature individuals ...<250<2500<10000
... with a decline of '%' within certain number of years / generations≥25%; 3y/1g≥20%; 5y/2g≥10%; 10y/3g
D - Population size of mature individuals<50<250<1000
E - Probability of extinction in the wild ...≥50%≥20%≥10%
... within certain number of years / generations10y/3g20y/5g100y



IUCN Redlist of Ecosystems

The IUCN also maintains an inventory of the conservation status of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, that is called the 'IUCN Red List of Ecosystems'. The inventory is based on a set of criteria that measures the risk of ecosystem collapse, by analysing various factors that range from geographical distribution to the degradation of components within the ecosystems. The ecosystem redlist uses similar classifications as the threatened species redlist, from LC to CR, although the 'extinct' (EX) classification is replaced with 'collapsed' (CO). An assessment of the Stirling Range ecosystem, for example, was found to be Critically Endangered due to its "naturally limited geographic extent and area of occupancy in combination with the impacts of the plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi".