IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (the Red List) is the globally recognised standard on assessing extinction risk. Red List assessments are used by the Convention on Biological Diversity, CITES, other inter-governmental agreements, national governments, and conservation planners.  The Red List assigns species into one of 8 categories based on 5 criteria, all with quantitative thresholds. The three highest categories of threat – Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable – are collectively considered ‘Threatened’. The Red List process has been formalized to support objectivity and scientific rigour. Red List assessments are carried out by SSC Red List Authorities, Red List Partners, IUCN staff, and regional and national agencies. In addition, Red List assessments provide a compendium of information on species, (taxonomy, geographic range, population, habitat and ecology, threats, conservation actions). The Red List operates at global, regional, and national levels. Guidelines for application at national or regional levels have been developed and the National Red List Working Group provides additional support.

Red List Authorities have been established for all major taxonomic groups included on the IUCN Red List. In most cases, the RLA is a sub-group within an IUCN SSC Specialist Group responsible for the species, groups of species or species within a specific geographic area. There are some exceptions; for example, BirdLife International is the designated RLA for all birds.

The process is guided by Rules of Procedure, supported by guidelines on application of the Red List Categories and Criteria, the Species Information Service (SIS) data entry and management system, and certification for assessors and RL trainers. All these materials can be downloaded, free, from the Red List website. A free, online training course for Red List assessors, is available.

Species can be assessed for the Red List at global, regional, and national levels. Guidelines for the Regional (and national) Application of the Categories and Criteria have been developed and support for development of national Red Lists is available from the National Red List Working Group.

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