IUCN stands for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The IUCN was founded in 1948 as the first global environmental organization. Their website can be found at www.iucn.org.

IUCN is an organization that helps in finding worldwide solutions for the most pressing environmental and developmental challenges. They also bring governments, non-governmental organizations, agencies, companies and local communities together to implement policies and to develop laws and best-practice solutions. Another task is to support scientific research and management of field projects all over the world, to better manage natural environments.

IUCN develops and supports innovative conservation science, at the species level, on ecosystems, on biodiversity and on the impact these have on human livelihoods. IUCN aims to accomplish its objectives by mobilizing the organizations, providing resources, training people and monitoring results.

One of the world`s most pressing global concerns is the loss of biodiversity. Estimates are that present species extinction rates are between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than it would be under natural conditions.

Causes for this loss of biodiversity are:

  • Habitat loss, in which habitats being destroyed, fragmented and degraded;
  • Destabilization of ecosystems due to climate change;
  • Pollution;
  • Invasive species;
  • Direct human impacts.

While man over exploits natural resources on the one hand, on the other hand it is now know that the biodiversity they represent is essential to humans because it supports livelihood and even life itself.

IUCN Red List

The red list is a list that describes the status of species. The IUCN red list distinguishes several categories of endangerment:

Category Description
ExtinctA species is defined as extinct in the wild when the presence of the species has not been confirmed in the wild for more than 50 years. So this means that there is no self sustaining natural population living in its natural habitats, but there may still be members of the species left in captivity.
When there are no individuals of the species left in captivity or in the wild, the species is extinct when the last member of that species dies.
Critically endangered Critically endangered species are defined as species that have an extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the immediate future.
Endangered Endangered species are defined as species that have a very high risk of extinction in the near future.
Vulnerable A species is defined as "vulnerable" when it is most likely that the species becomes "endangered" unless the circumstances which are threatening the species cease to exist and the species' reproduction improves.
Near threatened "Near threatened" is when the species may come to be considered "threatened" in the near future.
Least concern "Least concern" is when there is no immediate threat to the species.
Conservation depended Some species are not severely threatened but if they importantly rely on conservation programs they are referred to as "conservation dependent".

For more detailed information on the Red List criteria visit the website www.iucn.org