The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the renowned source of information when it comes to the conservation status of the world’s plants and animals. The IUCN Red List is important to scientists studying the state of species on this planet, especially in terms of extinction and biodiversity.
A group of researchers used the IUCN Red List to determine the state of extinction and conservation on a global scale. The researchers were able to determine that approximately 52 species of mammals, amphibians and birds become closer to extinction each year. Approximately twenty percent of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and birds are said to be threatened with extinction. Amphibians are the most endangered, with forty-one percent threatened with extinction.
The researchers used about 26,000 vertebrates listed on the IUCN Red List to determine their findings. The researchers determined the state of individual species based on whether the species’ status improved or worsened in terms of conservation. This method was based on the categories of the IUCN Red List, which include the following categories: Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild and Extinct.
The researchers found that an average of 52 species moved into a category closer to extinction each year on the IUCN Red List. Those moving the closest towards extinction are unsurprisingly the amphibians. However, mammals are declining at such a rate to come in second in this category. Of those which moved closer to extinction, 1 in 6 actually became extinct according to the study.
On a positive note, the researchers also found that conservation efforts were genuinely helping some species survive. According to the study, the majority of the species which actually improved on the IUCN Red List could be traced back to conservation efforts. The species this applied to were most often in the mammal and bird categories. Overall, the researchers determined that without conservation efforts, the rate of species heading towards extinction each year would be twenty percent quicker.
An author of the study, Stuart Butchart, stated: “Biodiversity is in a desperate state. Its situation is getting worse, but our results show we can turn the situation around. We just need greater political will and resources.” Another study author, Ana Rodrigues, stated: “Conservation is working, it’s just not enough.”
The entire study can be found in the journal Science.