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Using ecosystem risk assessment science for ecosystem restoration

07 / Jan / 2022Publications

Using ecosystem risk assessment science for ecosystem restoration

A new guide to applying the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems throughout planning, implementation, and monitoring.

Ecosystems form a core component of biodiversity. They provide habitat to the rich diversity of life and support complex interactions among species. They provide humans with multiple benefits – a stable climate, water, food, materials, and protection from disaster and disease. Despite their importance, widespread degradation is leading to a decline in the benefits that people receive from ecosystems. Thus, recent global initiatives in ecosystem restoration offer an unprecedented opportunity to improve biodiversity conservation and therefore, human health and well-being.

The guide Using ecosystem risk assessment science for ecosystem restoration was developed to explore how the Red List of Ecosystems and ecosystem restoration can be jointly deployed to reduce the risk of ecosystem collapse.

Ecosystem restoration, as defined by the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, includes a range of management interventions that aim to reduce impacts on and assist in the recovery of ecosystems that have been damaged, degraded, or destroyed. This new publication promotes the application of the science of ecosystem risk assessment, which involves measuring the risk of ecosystem collapse, in ecosystem restoration.

The Red List of Ecosystems assess five criteria that reflect different pathways to collapse:

  • A. Reduction in ecosystem distribution
  • B. Restricted distribution
  • C. Degradation of the abiotic environment
  • D. Disruption of biotic processes
  • E. The probability of ecosystem collapse from a quantitative model


03 Ipcc’s Climate Change


The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems protocol uses these five criteria to assign ecosystems to one of eight easy-to-understand categories: Collapsed (CO), Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (NT), Least Concern (LC), Data Deficient (DD), and Not Evaluated (NE). The first six categories are ordered in decreasing risk of collapse. The categories Data Deficient and Not Evaluated do not indicate a level of risk.

Ecosystem restoration is playing an increasingly large part in building a sustainable future and will guide priorities for years to come. Ecosystem risk assessment science provides a wealth of information that is useful across the entire cycle of restoration:

- At the knowledge gathering stage to define ecosystems and describe trends

- At the planning stage to identify priorities and set targets

- At the implementation stage to set the context and identify restoration activities

- At the monitoring and learning stage to measure and report progress, and to share lessons

- At the policy level to guide evidence-based policy and funding decisions


Also, we encourage you to take a look at the supplemental StoryMap viewable here.


Written by: Marcos Valderrabano

Style & format: Susana Barreto





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