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Conserv Biol. 2007 Jun;21(3):684-96.

National threatened species listing based on IUCN criteria and regional guidelines: current status and future perspectives.

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Centro de Ecología, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Apartado 21827, Caracas 1020-A, Venezuela.


As countries worldwide become increasingly interested in conserving biodiversity, the profile of national threatened species lists expands and these lists become more influential in determining conservation priorities. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) Categories and Criteria for evaluating extinction risk, originally intended for use at the global level, are increasingly being used at the national level. To facilitate this process, the IUCN recently published guidelines for the application of the criteria at subglobal levels. We evaluated the application of these guidelines, focusing on the opinions and experience of the global community of national assessors. To assess the extent to which IUCN criteria have been used in official national listing efforts, we sent a survey to 180 Convention on Biological Diversity national focal points designated by governments. Of the respondents, 77% had developed national threatened species lists. Of these, 78% applied a version of the IUCN criteria, and 88% plan to produce future threatened species lists. The majority of this last group (83%) will use IUCN criteria. Of the countries that have or will develop a threatened species list, 82% incorporated their list or the IUCN criteria into national conservation strategies. We further explored the issues highlighted by the survey results by integrating the experience of assessors that have produced national lists. Most of the problems national assessors faced when applying the IUCN criteria arose when the criteria were applied at the regional level without the IUCN Regional Guidelines and when assessors were confused about the purpose of the IUCN criteria and lacked training in their proper use. To improve their clarity and increase their repeatability, we recommend that the IUCN increase communication and information exchange among countries and between regional and global assessors, potentially through an interactive Web site, to facilitate the development of national red lists and to improve their conservation value within and between countries.

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