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Updated version of the criteria and categories for risk assessment of ecosystems

Now available through the journal PLoS ONE the updated version of the criteria and categories for risk assessment of ecosystems.

On May 8th the journal PLoS ONE released the updated version of the criteria and categories for risk assessment of ecosystems. This release is a step forward to the establishment of a systematic method to develop a red list of the world’s ecosystems by 2025.

This is the work of a group of researchers led by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that has been developing the Red List of Ecosystems as a new standard for environmental-risk assessment over the last few years.

The categories and criteria exposed in this article were validated in 20 ecosystems around the world, including terrestrial, freshwater, marine and subterrenean ecosystems under different threat levels and factors. One of the benefits of these criteria and categories is that besides their capability of being applied to specific ecosystems, they can also assess different geographic scales such as municipalities, states, countries, regions or entire continents. Risk analysis is performed based con five criteria (A, B, C, D, E), each one divided in subcriteria, except for criterion E (Keith et al. 2013).

Amongst the assessed ecosystems within this publication are the tepuy shrublands (Venezuela), categorized as Least Concern, and the Aral Sea (Uzebekistan and Kazakhstan) as an example of a Collapsed ecosystem, since it has experienced dissecation a few years ago, this has had serious consequences on biodiversity and neighbouring human populations.


Category: Collapsed. Aral Sea, Uzebekistan and Kazakhstan. Wikipedia 


 Category: Endanged. Semi-evergreen vine thicket, Australia. J.S. Benson 


Category: Least Concern. Tepuy shrubland, Venezuela.  Gustavo Romero 

The original document can be downloaded in the Key Documents. Currently it is only available in English, but versions in Spanish and French will soon be available.Each of the assessed ecosystems has a description of the assessment process and category attribution, as well as a description of its native characteristic biota and abiotic elements. It specifically includes: an ecosystem description, with a brief description of the native characteristic biota and its abiotic environment, ecosystem distribution, key processes and interactions, as well as threatening processes and how the criteria were applied, and assessment results.

In the Media Coverage section it’s possible to observe the effect this article has had in international media.



Provita May 10, 2013


IUCN Red List of Ecosystems


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