To be of maximum use to conservation planners, species biologists and even the general public, the final product of the Red List process is more than just a list of species which are threatened with extinction. Although most countries will publish their National Red List in hardcopy format, ideally the final product goes beyond the production of a glossy publication. Here are a few things to consider when trying to maximise the impact and usefulness of a National Red List:
1. Produce a synthesis of the overall findings of the National Red List process, rather than just a list of species. What are the overall patterns, which regions are highly problematic, how do different species groups compare with each other in terms of extinction risk, and so on. This can be a chapter added to the overall National Red List publication, or a stand-alone document. For example, in the 2010 Finnish National Red List, the synthesis chapter is included in the publication and precedes the actual Red List for different species groups, whereas in the Swiss National Red Lists where separate publications were produced for each species group, a separate cross-taxon synthesis was published in 2010. Similarly, the IUCN produced factsheets by country based on a national analysis of the European Red Lists, which are available here.
2. Make the National Red List as widely available as possible. Many countries nowadays make pdf versions of the resulting publications available on the National Red List project website or via other website, and therefore increase the reach of the project. Nicaragua and Switzerland are just two examples. The outputs of the 2008 National Red List of Venezuela were two-fold: 1. the Red List of Venezuelan Fauna and 2.a collection of species summary data sheets. Summary data sheets may be a great way of passing on succinct information to politicians, the general public, or as an information source for educational programmes and schools.
3. Make the National Red List data and information as accessible as possible. Some countries translate their National Red Lists into online databases which are accessible for all to retrieve information about species, their distribution, threats, etc. For example, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), in cooperation with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, have developed the SANBI Species Status Database, a website which provides a centralised storage location for information on the status of South African species. Similarly, the Swedish National Red List can be searched online
4. The National Red List process provides the precursor for the development of species action plans. Some species or taxon groups may benefit from the development of specific species or taxon group action plans to secure their survival into the future. In the process of developing action plans, it is vital to remember that action plans require measurable outputs in order to track success towards implementing the action plan. For more information, see the IUCN SSC Species Conservation Planning Task Force publications on strategies and action plans (Overview and Handbook).
5. National Red Lists are evolving documents and need to be kept up-to-date. A National Red List is never truly completed, because new information may become available from new research, new threats previously not considered are emerging, or a species is actually improving or deteriorating in its conservation status. It is therefore important to update National Red Lists over time. From an IUCN Red List perspective, Red List assessments older than 10 years are considered out of date. Sometimes, when there is a sudden emerging threat or important new information on species, updates may happen even more frequently. For example, the quantity and quality of information on Venezuelan threatened animals significantly increased due to new research carried out primarily by the scientific community and NGOs sine the first publication, which prompted – together with the fact that the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria had just been revised – a complete reassessment of the Venezuelan Red List.