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The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems in public policy

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems may inform governments and decision makers for the development of public policies on environmental conservation.

Both the extinction of species and the risk of ecosystem collapse are closely related to human development; moreover, the insufficiency and inefficiency of public policies are great drivers of environmental deterioration.

Ecosystem conservation is largely based on effective policies that support decision making and that is where the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) plays a key role, contributing to applications in different policy fields and instruments to achieve the conservation of biodiversity. However, its contribution to conservation issues has not been explored in detail.

The RLE offers a robust method to classify ecosystems, recognize their spatial dimension and identify threats. Identifying ecosystems at risk allows key actors to be informed to guide policies and the management of activities in particular areas, potentially reducing threats and pressures on these ecosystems.

This is why a new study conducted by Alaniz et al. 2019 (Operationalizing the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems in public policy) presented a systematic framework for governments and professionals to operationalize the RLE in instruments from different fields of public policies, such as land use and socio-economic planning, national and local conservation, climate change agendas and production systems.

RLE opportunities to inform public policies

Previous studies have evaluated the contribution of the RLE on conservation issues; however, there is still little guidance on how to implement the RLE in public policies. Alaniz et al. discussed how the RLE could inform the policy process through an analysis of different instruments that could be modified and implemented to achieve the reduction of ecosystem risks. The authors identified those policy instruments that could be used to address the risk symptoms detected by each criteria of the Red List of Ecosystems methodology. These instruments include management plans, production regulations, and waste disposal laws, among much others.

It is important to highlight that the RLE is not limited only to traditional conservation issues, such as the design and evaluation of protected areas and the prioritization of conservation sites, but also has applications in different policy and instrument fields for achieve biodiversity conservation at local, national and global levels. For example, the RLE has great potential for the design of land use plans and macroeconomic policies (i.e. through investment and tax strategies).

Currently, different countries with national Red Lists of Ecosystems are using them to inform legislation, land use planning, expansion of protected areas and ecosystem management. To learn more about the impact that RLE has had in the countries where it has been implemented, you can review the publication of Bland et al. 2019 in RLE’s website.


Written by: Mariana Hernández

Style and format: Lila García

Translation: Antonieta Parilli

Provita Sep 30, 2019


IUCN Red List of Ecosystems


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