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The updated version of the “Guidelines for the application of IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria” is available!

Since 2008, many experts from around the world have been actively participating in the development of the categories and criteria for the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE). One of the latest products of this work is the publication of the IUCN’s "Guidelines for the application of IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria." This document provides a theoretical, exemplified, updated and documented guide for the systematic application of the RLE’s categories and criteria.

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) has become a global framework for monitoring the conservation status of ecosystems. The main goal of this protocol is to support conservation in resource use and management decisions by identifying ecosystems most at risk of biodiversity loss. The RLE categories and criteria are designed to be widely applicable across ecosystem types and geographical areas, transparent and scientifically rigorous, and easily understood by policy makers and the public.

Since the Fourth World Conservation Congress in 2008, the process to develop RLE criteria was launched with Resolution 4.020. Four years later, these guidelines were consolidated with Resolution 5.055, which was adopted by the Fifth World Conservation Congress in 2012. This process culminated in the adoption of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria by the IUCN Council in May 2014, a process in which many experts from around the world actively participated.

In order to successfully apply the criteria and assign the risk categories proposed by the protocol, it is fundamental to consider certain definitions and follow a series of steps, which makes the existence of a practical guide essential.

This need was initially addressed in 2013 with the publication by Keith et al. of the “Scientific Foundations for an IUCN Red List of Ecosystems”, followed by the 2015 paper “A practical guide to the application of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems criteria” by Rodriguez et al. Now, the latest IUCN related publication published in early 2016, “Guidelines for the application of IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria” (edited by Lucie M. Bland, David A. Keith, Rebecca M. Miller, Nicholas J. Murray and Jon Paul Rodríguez), provides a much broader and comprehensive guide. It covers relevant information from the development of the protocol and a detailed overview of its scientific foundations, up to the required steps for assessing the criteria and assigning the categories, with the aim of contributing to the correct implementation of the RLE.

Moreover, in order to support the practical implementation of the RLE, the guidelines outline the necessary steps to define the assessment area, define the unit under assessment, apply the criteria and prepare the assessment documentation for peer review and publication. All the steps have been illustrated in this document with examples spanning a wide range of ecosystem types, geographic locations and data availability.

IUCN gratefully acknowledges the dedication and efforts of hundreds of professionals who have contributed to the scientific development and practical testing of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria since 2008. This important tool will allow, in conjunction with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Key Biodiversity Areas, to better understand the global biodiversity status and, most importantly, to take effective and timely measures.

For more information, please visit our Key documents section. The document of guidelines is currently available in its original version in English, and it will soon be available in Spanish and French.

Provita Apr 14, 2016

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