May 19 will see the release of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ for birds on the Birdlife International website. Occurring every four years, this full update is a global assessment of every bird species on earth: a complete inventory of the conservation status of the world’s avifauna.
For birds, the IUCN Red List is maintained by BirdLife International for IUCN, and with one in eight of the world’s 10,000 species at risk of extinction, compiling an accurate and fully documented list is time consuming but vital for planning conservation action. But what goes into an IUCN Red List update?
“BirdLife staff have had to assimilate and sift through a huge amount of data. These assessments cite a total of 12,500 references, and include information from 2,800 new published sources as well as from 3,000 unpublished reports”, says Jez Bird, BirdLife’s Global Species Officer.
“We have also received input from a huge number of scientists, conservationists and birdwatchers, both in the BirdLife Partnership and a broader network of collaborating organisations and IUCN specialist groups, with 1,400 reviews received from over 1,000 species experts,” Jez adds.
One means of collating information is through BirdLife’s Globally Threatened Bird Forums (www.birdlifeforums.org). More than 1,500 people are registered contributors to these and they have provided crucial up-to-date news on several hundred species for which IUCN Red List category revisions had been proposed.
This has been an enormous task and it is crucial as the IUCN Red List is the benchmark used to set priorities for conservation policy and planning. BirdLife International, as the world’s authority on the conservation and status of birds, is best placed to carry out this necessary work.
“Completing the IUCN Red List update has been a massive undertaking and would not have been possible without the global network of individuals and organisations who have provided vital information,” said Dr Stuart Butchart. “We are extremely grateful for their continued support.”
But what will this year’s changes be? Have any species been brought back from the brink of extinction? How many will have edged even closer to oblivion?
Find out on May 19.