Gland, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – A major new assessment of the threats to the world’s biodiversity shows that the continuing encroachment on many species’ habitats is increasing their vulnerability. The 2009 edition of world’s most comprehensive list of life under threat of extinction, the Red List of Threatened Species, was published Tuesday 3 November. The Red List is published yearly by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in Gland, near Geneva.
“The scientific evidence of a serious extinction crisis is mounting,” says Jane Smart, Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group.
Of the 5490 mammals in the world, 13 percent are either extinct or threatened. This year, IUCN added 293 reptiles to the list. More than 30 percent of the list’s amphibians are listed as endangered. In some cases, only a single member of a species was reported in the wild, heralding that species’ extinction.
“This year’s IUCN Red List makes for sobering reading,” says Craig Hilton-Taylor, manager of the IUCN Red List unit. “These results are just the tip of the iceberg. We have only managed to assess 47,663 species so far; there are many more millions out there which could be under serious threat. We do, however, know from experience that conservation action works, so let’s not wait until it’s too late and start saving our species now.” The list has been increased since the 2008 edition, so it covers many more species.
The Red List assesses the threat to species of plant and animal on the basis of criteria like population size and structure, and geographical extension, and assigns the species a category that ranges from extinct to of least concern. The Red List is not just a static list of the number of species endangered by the encroachment of humans. It is a compendium of the species, where they live, the threats they are under, and the conservation measures that could be taken to save them.