IUCN Red List & SRLI explained
The IUCN Red List Index provides us with a tool to measure the extinction risk of biodiversity. It acts as our shared ‘Barometer of Life’ by capturing the status of life on Earth at a particular time. It can also tell us how this status changes over time – whether things are improving or getting worse for different kingdoms, including mammals, birds and now, for the very first time, plants.
As pressures on plants continue to increase, so the needle moves on the 'Barometer of Life'. The IUCN Red List Index was adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2006 to measure progress towards the 2010 Biodiversity Target.
In the future, this project will reassess the plant life at regular intervals and chart the changing fortunes of the world’s plants; much like a stock exchange index shows the ups and downs in the value of shares. This will highlight where and what conservation action is needed to protect plants in the future. However, funding is needed in order to continue this important work.
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What is the IUCN Red List Index?
The IUCN Red List Index is the most authoritative and comprehensive catalogue of threatened species in the world; any species can be assessed and it also contains many species not currently threatened. It defines the conservation status of major species groups - including mammals, amphibians, birds and plants - and measures trends in extinction risk over time.
It provides a rigorous set of criteria to assess the conservation status of a species to see if it is threatened with extinction. Based on these criteria, each species is assigned a category ranging from Critically Endangered (very close to extinction) to Least Concern (under no or very little risk of extinction), or Data Deficient if there is not enough information to reliably assess the status.
By conducting conservation assessments at regular intervals, changes in the threat status of species in different groups can be used to monitor trends in extinction risk.
Once the conservation status of a species has been assessed, it is added to the IUCN Red List Index. Founded in 1948, this list is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.
What does SRLI mean?
SRLI stands for 'Sampled Red List Index'.
Plant groups are relatively poorly known compared to animal groups such as birds and mammals. This is because there are many more species of plants than there are birds and mammals. Every species of bird, mammal, amphibian and coral has been assessed, but for much larger groups, such as plants and insects, this would not be possible.
For this research project, a representative sample of plant species was selected, so we now have a IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants.
7,000 plant species drawn from the five major groups of plants were included in the study as representative of the other flowering plants. Find out more about the groups included here. Both common and rare plant species were assessed in order to give an accurate picture of how plants are faring around the world.
From the information we have gathered and the data collected, scientists and conservationists at Kew and partner organisations have been able to produce a robust analysis of the state of the world's plant life. This is a first for plants! Use our interactive map to explore the state of the world's plant life.
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