The Red Listing process


The process of creating a Red List generally is as follows:

1. All information relevant to species’ conservation status is collected, including

  • Species distribution
  • Population trend information
  • Habitat, ecology and life history information
  • Threats to the species
  • Conservation measures currently in place

This information is collected from the published and grey literature, museum records, specimen databases, etc. This stage may also include some consultation of experts for additional information. Given that the primary aim is to draw together all available data on each species, this process does not necessarily have to be carried out by species’ experts. However, it is vital that the person(s) collating the information for draft assessments is/are familiar with the Red Listing process and the data requirements to apply the IUCN Categories and Criteria (or of the national criteria system used).

2. An initial draft assessment of extinction risk is made for all species to be assessed, ideally using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria and the IUCN Regional Guidelines (although some countries have their own classification systems).

This draft assessment is based on the information gathered for each species. As such, this process again does not necessarily have to be carried out by species’ experts, but by a person(s) well versed in the application of the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (or the respective national criteria system used). However, interpretation of some of the information for purpose of deriving a draft assessment may require consultation with species’ experts.

3. A regional workshop is held in which species experts, particularly local experts, review the assessments, make any corrections necessary, add any additional information, and finalise the Red List category.

This is where species experts come into play the most. During this workshop, the experts are introduced to the application of the IUCN Categories and Criteria (or the respective national criteria system used) before reviewing the draft assessments, most often in taxonomically-defined working groups. Each working group is assigned a facilitator to guide the review and assessment process and make amendments to the draft assessments. This facilitator has in-depth knowledge of the application of the criteria system and can guide experts through the interpretation of thresholds, concepts, etc. underlying the criteria system. The facilitator can also steer the assessment process by focussing experts on the type of information required for the purpose of Red Listing, thus making the process more efficient.

You can find out more about the workshop experience in our blog posts from Nepal.

4. The assessments are collated into a National Red List document.

This should ideally contain all assessed species, not just those classed as threatened. This document can exists as a hardcopy, but it is also recommended to make the final publication publicly available via pdf download, an online database, etc. Find out more on what the final product might look like.

5. A Summary Conservation Action Plan is ideally also created, detailing recommended conservation measures for each threatened species.

This is the ideal outcome of any National Red List project. The Conservation Action Plan details the actions required to reduce the extinction risk of species, and make sure that extinction is prevented and the conservation status of species, particularly of those most in decline, is improved and sustained over time, in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 12. Check out our library to browse Conservation Action Plans produced around the world.

Find out more about the Red Listing process on the IUCN website.