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2017: A year of progress for the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems

Numerous and important achievements during 2017 marked the outstanding performance of the Red List of Ecosystems and its team.

The Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) of IUCN continues renovating itself. Since its creation in 2014, once again the continuous effort of scientists and researchers devoted to this key project, is concrete and made evident by the scientific and technological advances which marked 2017.


We are pleased to announce that one of RLE’s main objectives is underway: to evaluate all of the world’s ecosystems by 2025, (with over 1000 ecosystems type assessed so far, including evaluations prepared under modifications of the original methodology) and a number of evaluations planned for 2018. As of July, the Guidelines for the application of IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria (Version1.1) are available on our website. This document provides a detailed description of how to define the evaluation area and ecosystem type, how to apply each one of the 8 RLE categories and the 5 different criteria, and how to put together the evaluation documents before they are revised and published. The methodology can be applied on different scales, from the regional to the global level, and on different types of ecosystems: terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine.

In order to estimate the risk of collapse, ecosystems are open to there are a number of variables that need to be calculated, and therefore automating some of these is at the same time an important aid and a substantial advancement towards reaching goals such as the ones proposed for 2025. The year 2017 was notably successful in this sense. Four tools of different nature were made available to the public, though all sharing the common objective of promoting and improving the general knowledge of world ecosystems and providing useful information for conservation decision-making.

Advances have also been significant in strengthening ties with the global audience. This is so, not only because RLE message has managed to spread successfully throughout the world but also because of the noteworthy increase in the number of followers of all ages who visit the site and join our social networks. Just in 2017, the website had approximately 11 104 new visitors, mainly from our platforms in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+, out of which 5 182 have become recurrent visitors.

During 2017, the RLE team also worked on the constant generation of informative content. As a result of this effort, 14 scientific articles were published throughout the year that can be found in the different sections of Resources on the website. Likewise, 18 press releases were published that addressed broad topics such as particular ecosystems and/or the relationships and applicability of the LRE to other topics of social interest. It should be noted that our publications were shared through social networks as part of the divulgation process, consolidating an audience that grows stronger day by day and promoting the process of constant innovation that characterizes the RLE.

The RLE was present at multiple international events during 2017, taking with us information on advances and new goals. Worthy of special mention is our participation in the following: the International Congress of Conservation Biology, in Cartagena, Colombia; the event put together by one of the sections of scientific advice (SBSTTA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in Montreal, Canada, as well as at the COP13 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in Mongolia, China. Training and workshops were equally important and took place in different parts of the world, such as the United Kingdom, Colombia, Madagascar, and Ecuador.

As far as teamwork and partnership building are concerned this has been a year in which the team has grown and gained strength, besides relating and working towards shared goals with the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management, within which the RLE functions. During 2017, the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) prepared the detailed work plan 2017-2020, and the activities so far carried on by the RLE thematic group - including those which it plans to develop - are in perfect concordance within at least 5 of its Strategic Results framework. CEM Director, Dr. Angela Andrade, besides being directly related to the generation of evaluations in her country, Colombia, has shown a clear inclination to promote RLE activities, as well as to highlight and also promote the applicability of evaluations and the implementation of the results in decision-making and conservation actions.

Undeniably, this has been a year of challenges and demands for RLE, but what is more important, it has also been one of advancement in favor of the conservation of ecosystems, steadily moving forward the clear purpose to show both the importance and transformative power of the Red List of Ecosystems. However, work does not stop here: 2018 will bring along the acceptance of new publications, the completion of a database to gather and manage all information regarding assessments, and advances in typology and indicators. New technical meetings and events of scientific outreach will take place, as well as new training events, beginning with a joint training on species and ecosystems in the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, new financing, which will open new opportunities, will be activated and the search of new funding to guarantee continuity to what has already been achieved will go on.

In 2018, 70 years since the creation of UICN will be celebrated; an excellent framework to bring out the importance and far-reaching effect of one of its main knowledge products: the Red List of Ecosystems, an initiative that will celebrate this anniversary giving continuity to the work it has been doing since its origins, i.e., join efforts to get to know the world’s ecosystems and help make them known in order to promote their conservation.

Happy 2018!

LRE Team


 Written by: Mariana Hernández, Clara Gómez and Ariany García

Style and Format: Ana María Fernández

Translation: Ana María Fernández

Provita Dec 29, 2017


IUCN Red List of Ecosystems


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