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New applications of the Red List of Ecosystems: case studies in China and Australia

Innovation is key to overcome limitations when using the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) to assess ecosystems collapse risk! 

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystem is gaining momentum, and mainstreaming the RLE into international and national policy requires increased coverage of assessments. Nevertheless, it also requires overcoming common methodological limitations as the lack of quantitative, long-term data on suitable indicators, problematic datasets and difficulties to set collapse thresholds.

In these sense, innovation is key to achieve goals and advance in ecosystem assessments coverage and implementation. Some of the most recent assessments carried out for ecosystems in China and Australia, included innovative perspectives to address some of these limitations.

In China an IUCN RLE assessment (Meng et al. 2020) integrated tools of geographical information systems, remote sensing, and boreal ecosystem productivity simulations to assess twelve ecosystems from the Xilin River Basin. This research showed that the use of integrated tools could overcome the limitation of data deficiency, by allowing simulating biological processes and interactions; thus increasing the efficiency of the IUCN RLE in some way. This study represents a breakthrough in ecosystems conservation, since it sorts out some gaps and promotes further applications of the Red List of Ecosystems in the country.


Moreton Bay mangroves by Tom Rayner.

Nonetheless, integrating tools it is not the only way to tackle barriers when conducting a RLE assessment, also, considering outcomes integration is crucial for connected ecosystems. In this regard, we remark the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems assessments for connected coastal wetlands (seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh) of Moreton Bay, Australia (Sievers et al. 2020). Researcher from the Global Wetlands Project highlight the importance and benefits of assessing connected ecosystems simultaneously as collapse in just one ecosystem can have significant effects in the others. This is particularly relevant for many aquatic ecosystems, which often exist alongside one another in habitat mosaics, forming communities that are highly connected. 

Due to the environmental challenges that our planet is facing, the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) is highly relevant, now more than ever. By identifying innovating approaches, research and monitoring efforts can be tailored to enable more robust future RLE assessments. It is there that the innovative perspectives that we find in these recent evaluations are key.


Written by: Deyarling Bersovine and Lila García

Style and format: Lila García

Provita Jun 22, 2020


IUCN Red List of Ecosystems


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