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Highlights of 2018

Another year of advances and innovation for the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems!

The past year has seen no shortage of achievements for the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE). As it has been since it was adopted as a global standard for assessing the risk of ecosystems collapse in 2014, the ongoing determination and efforts from our growing team of scientists and collaborators marked 2018 as yet another successful year for RLE.

RLE’s thematic group continues making progress towards the goal to assess all of the world’s ecosystems with over 35 completed assessments of targeted ecosystems, as well as 9 national, 6 sub-national and 1 continental RLE assessments. Additional assessments are ongoing or being planned.

Progress has also been made with other ambitious projects: an RLE’s database to compile the information on completed assessments and a Global Ecosystems Typology, both well underway. When completed, these products will further enhance the process of ecosystem risk assessment and its overall impact for the benefit of researchers, policy-makers and other stakeholders alike.

This past year has also been one of advancement in favor of ecosystem conservation, with the publication of the first IUCN-RLE continental assessment for the Americas and the first IUCN-RLE assessment of an offshore marine ecosystem (focused on the southern Benguela of South Africa). Additionally, this year we summarized some of the impacts of the Red List of Ecosystems on conservation in the last five years through the review “Impacts of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems on Conservation Policy and Practice” (preprint, Bland et al. 2018). Our review indicates that countries with RLE risk assessments are using them to:

  • Inform legislation (e.g. Australia and Colombia)
  • Improve land-use planning
  • Promote protected area expansion (e.g. South Africa)
  • Inform National reports of threatened ecosystems (e.g. Norway, South Africa and Colombia)
  • Improve ecosystem management (e.g. Norway and Finland)

This success has prompted other nations to start using RLE’s methodology to assess the risk of collapse of their ecosystems and develop their own Red Lists.

During 2018, the RLE team also worked on generating informative content and the improvement of available tools: 12 scientific articles and 35 press releases were published throughout the year, covering from new ecosystem assessments to new tools. Furthermore, throughout the year we participated in multiple trainings and capacity building workshops, as well as international events all over the world (e.g. RLE training workshop in the Guianas – Georgetown, Guyana; Tonga Mangrove workshop – Nuku'alofa, Tonga; Boden Research Conference – Canberra, Australia; Eye on Earth Symposium 2018 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates).

Framed under IUCN's 70th Anniversary, this year’s efforts also sought to continue improving synergies between RLE and other IUCN knowledge products. Specifically, in alliance with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (RLTS), we successfully completed the first Joint Training Workshop on Species and Ecosystems Red Lists – Abu Dhabi Emirate, and the first Training Course on Risk Assessments of Species Extinction and Ecosystem Collapse as a postgraduate course in Venezuela.

Our successes this year reflect the constant process of innovation in research and implementation of the Red List of Ecosystems, and the efforts made by the RLE Thematic Group and its collaborators, partners, and donors. In particular, we want to thank the labor of Rebecca Miller (RLE Programme Officer 2014 - 2018), as well as the incorporation of Radhika Murti (Director of the Global Ecosystem Management Programme) and Nima Raghunathan (RLE Programme Officer) to the team.

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems continues to advance as an indicator of the status of diversity, providing new tools for the improved management of ecosystems in order to reduce risks and improve resilience. As RLE prepares to celebrate its fifth anniversary, 2019 will provide an excellent framework to bring out the importance of the world’s ecosystems, as well as the joint efforts made to promote their conservation worldwide.

In 2019, we will continue working on new publications, reference materials and tools, as well as on the first public version of the RLE Data Base. New technical meetings and outreach events will take place, beginning with the Fourth IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Photo Contest: My Place in Nature. Keep an eye on our News and Events sections, as well as our social media, to stay up to date!


RLE Thematic Group



Written by: Lila García, Clara Gómez and Irene Zager

Style and format: Lila García and Irene Zager

Provita Feb 04, 2019


IUCN Red List of Ecosystems


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