Above: The ‘IUCN Green List’ idea was first proposed in 2012 at the World Conservation Congress. For the past two years, researchers have worked intensively on this proposed framework, and used the recovery of the Mauritius pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri) as a guide. Photo: Paignton Zoo


THE INTERNATIONAL UNION for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is one step closer to a “Green List of Species”, following the publication of a proposed new framework to measure threatened species’ conservation success.

Last month, an international research team from conservation institutions, specialist groups and universities put forward a new plan under the working title of the “IUCN Green List of Species”. The theoretical framework, which was published in the journal Conservation Biology, aims to complement the IUCN Red List by offering a tool to assess the recovery of species’ populations and measure conservation efforts.

The new list will shift conservation focus from trying to pull a species back from the brink of extinction to finding ways of helping these species to recover earlier than that.

Lead author H. Resit Akcakaya told Cage & Aviary Birds that this framework will be applied to hundreds of species including vertebrate and invertebrate animals, plants and fungi from all continents.

He explained: “It will mean more objective assessment of the impact of past conservation efforts, and the dependence of the species on future conservation. Furthermore, it means that funding decisions for species conservation can be based on more objective measures of how important conservation is for the species.”

This first published summary of the framework proposes a new definition of “fully recovered” species – describing it as one that is viable and fulfils its ecological roles throughout its native range. Four conservation metrics are then offered. The first, “Conservation legacy”, compares a species’ current status with the estimated outcome if existing conservation efforts hadn’t been taken to secure its populations in the past 50 years.

The next three look at future impact: “Conservation dependence” examines what would happen to a species if ongoing conservation actions were stopped in the future; and “Conservation gain” measures the improvements that conservation efforts can produce in the future.

“Recovery potential” quantifies the maximum possible recovery a species can achieve in the long term. Following feedback, scientists hope to launch the final version of the “IUCN Green List” in 2020.

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