IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: France ranks fifth worldwide

22 June 2012 | News story

In the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ published on 19 June, France ranks 5th in the world for hosting the largest number of endangered plant and animal species. Most of these species are located in the French overseas territories. With 983 globally threatened species, France has a major responsibility at global and European level to fight against biodiversity loss. 

The main threats to species are degradation of natural habitats, overfishing, invasive species, pollution and climate change. France comes after Ecuador, Malaysia, USA and Indonesia, and ahead of Mexico, India, China, Australia and Brazil. 

It is mainly the French overseas territory, leading with New Caledonia and French Polynesia, which put France so high in the rankings. In fact, almost all of the French overseas territories are located in global biodiversity hotspots – areas rich in species but also highly threatened: the Caribbean Islands, the Indian Ocean islands, Polynesia -Micronesia, New Caledonia. Many endangered species are also present in French Guiana.

On its European territory, France is directly concerned as well: 215 globally threatened species have been identified. These species live in the wide range of natural habitats found on mainland France and in the Mediterranean area – another global biodiversity hotspot. 

To refine the global IUCN inventory, the IUCN French National Committee and the National Museum of Natural History have since 2007 coordinated the development of the Red List of Threatened Species in France. On the basis of IUCN criteria, the objective is to assess the risk of extinction of each species on the French territory, both mainland and overseas. The numerous species groups which have already been assessed confirm that species are facing high level threats which has led to identify priorities for action to stop their extinction.

In order to raise awareness about biodiversity in France, the Department of Seine-Saint-Denis in collaboration with the National Museum of Natural History has recently organized for the third time "24 hours for Biodiversity". The initiative aimed to show the natural forests and parks in the department and to educate about the discovery and identification of species of flora and fauna. Information about the Natura 2000 network was also part of the initiative, as this site is the only Natura 2000 site in Europe to be entirely located in the city – evidence of the rich biodiversity of the parks and forests of Seine-Saint-Denis.


This image shows the courtship behavior of Indian Bull frogs (Holobatrachus tigerinus). During the monsoon, the breeding males become bright yellow in color, while females remain dull. The prominent blue vocal sacs of male produce strong nasal mating call.