The IUCN Species Programme and the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) have for more than four decades been assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties, and even selected subpopulations on a global scale in order to highlight taxa threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation. Altogether this information makes up the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. The IUCN Species Programme maintains the Red List in a centralised database (called the Species Information Service or SIS). The IUCN Red List website makes the most recent assessments of species publicly available via a searchable database.
Only a small proportion of the world’s great number of plant and animal species have been comprehensively assessed, so far including amphibians, birds, mammals, freshwater crabs, warm-water reef building corals, conifers and cycads. Many thousands of species have therefore not yet been assessed (i.e., are Not Evaluated) and the IUCN Red List does not include species that went extinct before 1500 AD. New species are constantly being assessed and are added in regular updates.
The data contained in the IUCN Red List is used for conservation work around the world and an in-depth analysis of the data is published periodically (usually at least once every four years). These detailed analyses give us a global picture of species’ conservation status, conservation successes and what we need to do to halt biodiversity loss.
As the IUCN are the organisation responsible for global Red Listing and the producers of the internationally-recognised guidelines on Red Lists, you will notice much of our National Red List site points towards their website, as they will always hold the most recent guidelines and criteria. The IUCN Red List is, however, a global programme and they are not responsible for all Red Lists at all levels. Sub-global Red Lists are generally governmental or institutional initiatives, and it is for this reason that www.nationalredlist.org is a separate project. We work closely with the IUCN Species Programme to improve links between Regional Red Lists and the IUCN Red List and to build capacity and expertise for Red Listing around the world.