Utilising Red Lists


Red Lists can be an invaluable tool when it comes to understanding the state of a nation or area’s biodiversity, but as a stand-alone document cannot conserve species without further action.

One of the earliest useful outputs of the Red List process is a greater awareness of not only the identity and location of threatened species, but also where knowledge is lacking.  The data collected to construct a Red List can be used to identify key areas where more research is urgently required on species or habitats.  Through collaboration with Universities and other institutions, students and early career researchers can be encouraged to tackle these knowledge gaps, building both in-country conservation and research capacity and understanding of biodiversity.

Most importantly, the main output of a Red List should be a comprehensive plan (or multiple plans) to reverse population decline or threats to those species classified as threatened with extinction, or across their respective habitats.  Biodiversity Action Plans use assessments of the conservation status of species and their habitats to specify conservation priorities.  The IUCN Species Conservation Planning Sub-Committee provide detailed “Strategic Planning for Species Conservation” guideline documents on their webpage.

The changes and trends in species conservation status observable through repeated Red List assessments over time (Red List Indices) are a highly suitable indicator by which to measure progress against the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs)  required by the CBD.  National Red Lists themselves, and the resulting Action Plans from status assessments, also contribute directly to meeting Target 12 of the Convention, and can feed into many other targets as well.

The direct conservation outputs of National Red Lists are closely tied to progress through their associated Biodiversity Action Plans, and we therefore highlight those important Action Plans through this site.  You can find our collection of Action Plans in the Library.