what is the red list for birds

Established in 1964, The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species.

The IUCN Red List is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity. Far more than a list of species and their status, it is a powerful tool to inform and catalyze action for biodiversity conservation and policy change, critical to protecting the natural resources we need to survive. It provides information about range, population size, habitat and ecology, use and/or trade, threats, and conservation actions that will help inform necessary conservation decisions.

The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria are intended to be an easily and widely understood system for classifying species at high risk of global extinction. It divides species into nine categories: Not Evaluated, Data Deficient, Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild and Extinct.

This is an incredible achievement. However, our work is nowhere near complete. We need to substantially increase the number of wild species assessed, particularly plants, invertebrates and fungi.

Our current goal is to have 160,000 species assessed. Meeting this goal will provide the most up-to-date indication of the health of the world’s biodiversity to guide critical conservation action. This is only achievable with support from people like you.

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Red: a colour of alarm, urgency, passion and energy. “The Red List” makes most conservationists feel all four of these things, sometimes all at once. The Red List identifies the most vulnerable species and recommends prioritizing their conservation. Additionally, it’s an effective means of getting governments to safeguard endangered species.

BirdLife International is the only global authority on birds, coordinating the process of assessing every bird species on Earth against the Red List categories and criteria to determine their extinction risk. The process is officially known as The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species TM.

The Red List is known as the “barometer of life” because it contains a wealth of data about ecological needs, threats to species, locations of occurrence, and conservation measures that can be implemented to lessen the likelihood of extinction.

Extinct (EX): beyond a reasonable doubt, the final person to have passed away

Only known to survive in captivity, cultivation, or far outside of its natural range is the term “extinct in the wild” (EW).

Highly Endangered (CR): having an exceptionally high chance of going extinct in the wild

Endangered (EN): having an extremely high chance of going extinct in the wild

Vulnerable (VU): having a high chance of going extinct in the natural world

Close to or likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future is what is meant by the term “near threatened” (NT).

Least Concern (LC): Population is sufficiently stable that there is little chance of it going extinct very soon.

It’s much more than a list, however. It’s the result of decades of work, thousands of people’s contributions, field reports, scientific papers produced, and countless phone calls, emails, and conversations on BirdLife’s Globally Threatened Birds Forums. Contributors include our global BirdLife Partners, a virtual army of professionals and ornithologists studying particular species, bird tour guides who observe changes on a daily basis, and seasoned conservationists with a regional or global perspective. Sometimes we reach out to the few individuals who have access to extremely remote locations and have the good fortune to witness extremely rare species.

The BirdLife Global Science Team evaluates the size and trend of each species’ population as well as its geographic range before classifying it into a Red List category. Reliable, comparable evaluations that are valid worldwide are ensured when this is done impartially and consistently for all species.

Every year, the team evaluates a subset of the 11,000 bird species found worldwide, with a more thorough review occurring every four years, in an effort to draw conclusions about the condition of the world’s birds. Scores of bird species are consistently shifted to more or less dangerous categories.

1 in 8 bird species are threatened with extinction

Melissa Howes-Whitecross releases a tagged Secretarybird (Endangered) © Caroline Howes

One list you do not want to be at the top of is the Red List, though An animal is “uplisted” if it is more likely to go extinct, and this is something that happens far too frequently. However, a bird species crossing the line to become “globally threatened” signifies that BirdLife is formally sounding the alarm, much like a change seen on a barometer. When an item is uplisted, conservationists are alerted and compelled to take action; when it is downlisted, they rejoice and draw lessons from this event, which is surprisingly more frequent than one may imagine due in part to the tireless efforts of BirdLife Partners worldwide.

Recently, we have elevated 40 species to a higher threat level overall, serving as a clear reminder of the devastation that human activity continues to inflict on the natural world. However, in other places, a number of species have demonstrated recovery, demonstrating that conservation efforts are effective and that the Red List is not a one-way ticket to extinction.

For many of the 40 species that were “uplisted” in 2020, this marks the start of their recovery journey rather than its conclusion.

In 2020, forty bird species were upgraded to a higher threat level.

The 2023 Red List update reveals hope for birds in crisis

With the world on the verge of environmental catastrophe, BirdLife’s inclusion in the 2023 IUCN Red List serves as a sobering reminder that bird populations are declining at a never-before-seen pace.

what is the red list for birds

40,000 tree species now published on the IUCN Red List

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was updated today, bringing the total number of tree species on the list to over 40,000 with the release of about 4,000 new tree assessments.