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Conservation status

Conservation status
Risk of extinction

Extinct in the Wild


Critically Endangered

Lower risk

Conservation Dependent
Near Threatened
Least Concern

See also

World Conservation Union
IUCN Red List

The conservation status of a species is an indicator of the likelihood of that species continuing to survive either in the present day or the future. Many factors are taken into account when assessing the conservation status of a species: not simply the number remaining, but the overall increase or decrease in the population over time, breeding success rates, known threats, and so on.


Global systems

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the best-known worldwide conservation status listing and ranking system. The system divides threatened species into three categories: Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), and Vulnerable (VU). Also listed are extinctions that have occurred since 1500 AD and taxa that are extinct in the wild. Lower risk taxa are also divided into categories.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Multi-country systems

In the European Union, the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations is legislation to provide for the implementation of CITES within the EU, and additional measures[1]. A database of species listed under the EU Wildlife Regulation is available[2]. Additionally, there is the EU Habitats Directive[3] and EU Birds Directive[4].

NatureServe conservation status focuses on Latin America, USA, Canada and the Caribbean, It has been developed over the past three decades by scientists from NatureServe, The Nature Conservancy, and the network of natural heritage programs and conservation data centers. It is increasingly integrated with the IUCN Red List system. Categories for species including: Presumed Extinct (GX), Possibly Extinct (GH), Critically Imperiled (G1), Imperiled (G2), Vulnerable (G3), Apparently Secure (G4), and Secure (G5)[5]. The system also allows ambiguous or uncertain ranks including inexact numeric ranks (eg G2?), and range ranks (e.g G2G3) for when the exact rank is uncertain. NatureServe adds a qualifier for Captive or Cultivated Only (C), which has a similar meaning to the IUCN Red List Extinct in the Wild (EW) status,

Red Data Book of the Russian Federation is used within the Russian Federation.

National systems

  • Australia. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) describes lists of threatened species, ecological communities and threatening processes. The categories resemble those of the 1994 IUCN Red List Categories & Criteria (version 2.3). Prior to the EPBC Act, a simpler classification system was used by the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992.
  • Belgium. The Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) publishes an online set of more than 150 nature indicators in Dutch[6].
  • Canada. COSEWIC (The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) is a committee of experts that assesses and designates which wild species are in some danger of disappearing from Canada[7] Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), it is up to the federal government, which is politically accountable, to legally protect species assessed by COSEWIC. See also: British Columbia Red List.
  • China. The State, provinces and some counties have determined their key protected wildlife species. There is the China red data book.
  • Finland. A large number of species are protected under the Nature Conservation Act, and through the EU Habitats Directive and EU Birds Directive[8].
  • Japan. The Japan Agency of Environment publishes a Threatened Wildlife of Japan Red Data Book[9].
  • The Netherlands. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality publishes a list of threatened species, and conservation is enforced by the Nature Conservation Act 1998. Species are also protected through the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives[10][11][12]
  • New Zealand. The Department of Conservation publishes the New Zealand Threat Classification System lists. Under this system threatened species or subspecies are assigned one of seven categories: Nationally Critical, Nationally Endangered, Nationally Vulnerable, Serious Decline, Gradual Decline, Sparse, or Range Restricted. While the classification looks only at a national level, many species are unique to New Zealand, and species which are secure overseas are noted as such.
  • South Africa. The South African National Biodiversity Institute, established under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004, is responsible for drawing up lists of affected species, and monitoring compliance with CITES decisions. It is envisaged that previously diverse Red lists (e.g. for mammals, birds, and plants) would be more easily kept current, both technically and financially.
  • Ukraine. The Ministry of Environment Protection maintains list of endangered species (divided into 7 categories from "0" - extinct to "VI" - rehabilitated) and publishes it within the Red Book of Ukraine.
  • United States of America. The Endangered Species Act created the Endangered Species List.
  • India. Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, Ammended 2003 Biological Diversity Act, 2002

Consumer guides

Consumer guides for seafood, such as Seafood Watch, generally divide fishes and other sea creatures into three categories, analogous to conservation status categories:

  • Red ("say no" or "avoid")
  • Yellow or orange ("think twice", "good alternatives" or "some concerns")
  • Green ("best seafood choices").

The categories do not simply reflect the imperilment of individual species, but also consider the environmental impacts of how and where they are fished, such as through bycatch or ocean bottom trawlers. Often groups of species are assessed rather than individual species (e.g. Bluefin tuna or squid).

The Marine Conservation Society has 5 levels of ratings for seafood species, as displayed on their Fishonline website.

See also

  • Biodiversity Action Plan
  • List of extinct animals
  • Endangered species
  • Ecoregion conservation status
  • Lazarus taxon
  • Conservation status (TNC)
  • Bonn Convention
  • Living Planet Index
  • Red List Index
  • Regional Red List


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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Conservation_status". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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