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RLE - a growing, successful initiative

From indicators to global ecosystems assessments, no stone was left unturned in the 2018 meeting of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems steering committee.

Workshop participants after learning the ins and outs of the Red List of Ecosystems

Members of the steering committee for the Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) met from June 25-27 at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) headquarters. As can be expected, the discussion topics varied extremely and ranged from accounting and legislation to the purely theoretical. “When people think of Red List of Ecosystems they usually imagine a map of traffic lights where everything is clarified,” pointed out Prof David Keith, Lead RLE Thematic Group. “When you gather scientists around a table what you usually see is this – a broad complex landscape.” Clear priorities emerged, however, in the form of a global assessment and the release of the RLE database, while synergies with other IUCN knowledge products were explored. Of particular importance was the realization that the demand for RLE’s work is growing and now is the perfect time to both reassess what has been done and what is to come.

RLE is a globally recognized ecosystem assessment tool comprised of five rule-based criteria for evaluating the risk status of ecosystems collapse, thus enabling comparisons at regional, national and global levels over time to plan appropriate conservation and management actions.

"I see the Red List of Ecosystems as a translator between two worlds."

– Marcos Valderrábano

On Thursday, the 28th of June, all the preceding days hard  work culminated in a day-long introductory workshop. Angela Andrade (Chair of IUCN's CEM) and Radhika Murti (a.i. Director of the Global Ecosystem Management Programme-IUCN) opened the event and provided an overview of RLE’s methodology, including the five criteria; an introduction to the eight categories for risk of ecosystem collapse; and case studies as examples of potential applications for RLE.

After the introduction, a group of experts gathered on site to explain how to correctly apply the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems knowledge product. Prof David Keith (UNSW) introduced the wealth of research behind the global typology of ecosystems and gave various illustrative examples. Irene Zager (Provita) then gave an overview of the RLE methodology, followed by a comprehensive guide to stepping through an RLE assessment presented by Marcos Valderrábano (CMC, IUCN), and the environmental legislation synergies of the RLE - covered by Raul Telles do Valle (WCEL, IUCN).

Raul Telles do Valle (World Commission on Environmental Law-IUCN), weighs out the different options once an ecosystem is identified as endangered

Finally, José Rafael Ferrer Paris (Provita), set the bar high with a continental RLE assessment of tropical and temperate forests and Jess Rowland (Deakin University) closed by elaborating upon how the RLE can be used in biodiversity monitoring and reporting. All in all, a success.Under the premise of “what are the legal consequences of using the RLE and labelling an ecosystem as a protected area?” Telles do Valle detailed the different ways forward for an ecosystem once it is labelled as Endangered, emphasizing that these can be addressed through integrated approaches. “Offset schemes [for example] do not only need to be restoration based; they could be protection based. A combination can avoid biases (e.g. tree bias) and ecological indicators are then used to measure success.” Later, three national RLE assessments (Australia, Brazil and Colombia) were further delved into and Dr Emily Nicholson (Deakin University) put RLE in context in terms of ecosystem accounting before an interactive break out session took place, with groups on natural capital accounting, applications of RLE and the RLE database.

After a day of presentations, participants break out into working groups to get down into the details of the IUCN-RLE

Potential opportunities to establish further linkages between the IUCN RLE and other sectors for collaboration efforts, presently include further engaging RLE in global policy frameworks and ensuring its involvement with academia, nature-based solution (NbS) project developments, and interdisciplinary conservation initiatives. For future coverage of RLE events, follow us on Twitter on @redlisteco. To get involved with the RLE and join the Commission of Ecosystem Management see here.



Written by: Daisy Hessenberger

Style and format: Lila García and Clara Gómez

Provita Jul 31, 2018


IUCN Red List of Ecosystems


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