The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™

IUCN Species Red List

Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Global
Country or countries covered
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

The Red List of Threatened species assesses the risk of extinction of species at a global, regional and national level covering eventually all countries

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

To provide a comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant, fungi and animal species.

Assessed species are assigned to one of seven categories, based on a rigorous set of criteria. These categories range from “Extinct” (no individuals remaining) to “Least Concern” (lowest risk, may be widespread and abundant). It also classifies other species as “Data Deficient” (lacking sufficient data to make an assessment of risk of extinction).

Mandate for the assessment

This is one of the six priority IUCN Knowledge Products as identified in the 2013-2016 IUCN Programme which was adopted by IUCN members in the 2012 World Conservation Congress, and is available here:

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Other (please specify)

IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (version 3.1)

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

The conceptual framework of the IUCN Species Red List has evolved considerably since it was launched in the 1960s, with the criteria becoming increasingly sophisticated, quantitative and objective. This evolution has been driven by the significant increase in research, improved data management technology, improved approaches to assessing the status of species and greater public support for species conservation. The IUCN Red List Criteria were designed to be applied at the scale of the entire range of the species (subspecies, variety or subpopulation) being assessed, but they can be applied at the national level if the recommended guidelines are followed. The criteria may not be appropriate at very small scales. Reference documents are available at:

IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (version 3.1)

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Island
  • Inland water
  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land
  • Grassland
  • Mountain
  • Dryland
  • Polar
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed



Supporting Services/Functions

Cultural Services

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started

Pre 2000

Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment


If repeated, how frequently

The IUCN Species Red List is continuously updated.

Assessment outputs


Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Stakeholder involvement in the Red List’s preparation is confined largely to the individuals who are experts in the species being assessed. Most are field scientists, and many work closely with local people who have knowledge of the species being assessed. To tackle the threats assessed by the Red List, however, local stakeholders are essential in the design and implementation of any recommended actions.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

  • Conservation organizations at a local, national and regional level
  • Universities
  • Consultants
  • Government agencies working on biodiversity management

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process

More than 1000

Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only
  • Resource experts (e.g. foresters etc)
  • Traditional/local knowledge
  • Citizen science

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

The data upon which the Red List is based come from its network of contributors, guided by the Red List authorities (the institutions, usually specialist groups of the Species Survival Commission, that are responsible for given species or groups of species). Because some of these data are sensitive (potentially guiding poachers to rare species), the raw data are not always made freely available (at the request of those fieldworkers who provide the data). This has led to some criticisms of a lack of full transparency and legitimacy, but detailed information on threatened or scarce species can sometimes lead to illegal uses.

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species information is used to develop one of the key existing biodiversity indicators, the Red List Index. The Red List Index can be calculated for all species or for a particular groups of species (i.e. birds, mammals, corals, etc), and it can also be calculated at a global, regional, and/or national scale. RLIs have been widely adopted at the policy level, being used to report against the CBD 2010 Biodiversity Targets, the UN Millennium Development Goals, by CITES, CMS (and its agreements: AEWA, ACAP Raptor MOU), and for regional policy fora (e.g., SEBI in Europe). It has been well profiled in global assessments such as the Global Biodiversity Outlook-3 and Global Environment Outlook 5. The RLI index is now key and formally adopted for monitoring progress towards CBD's Aichi Biodiversity Target 12 and is also important for other targets such as targets 5,6,7,8 and 14.

Relevant links:

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Its policy impact is reflected by its authority as the most reputable source of data on threatened species, by the hundreds of national red lists that have been prepared by Governments and expert groups, and by the publications that frequently draw on information in the Red List. Many donors determine priorities for project investments at least partly on the basis of the assessments provided by the Red List. The Red List Index has been selected as an official indicator to track progress towards attaining Millennium Development Goal 7. The latest iteration of the Red List reported 37 mammals, two birds and one amphibian whose status has genuinely improved due to conservation action (although far more have deteriorated due to the lack of such action).

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Network and sharing experiences, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Workshops, Developing/promoting and providing access to support tools, Formal training, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information