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Celebrating 50 Years of The IUCN Red List

30 January 2014

Throughout 2014 we are celebrating the significant contribution of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in guiding conservation action and policy decisions over the past 50 years. The IUCN Red list is an invaluable conservation resource, a health check for our planet – a Barometer of Life.

The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species and their links to livelihoods. Far more than a list of species and their status, the IUCN Red List is a powerful tool to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation and policy change, critical to protecting the natural resources we need to survive. It provides information on population size and trends, geographic range and habitat needs of species.

Many species groups including mammals, amphibians, birds, reef building corals and conifers have been comprehensively assessed. However, there is much more to be done and increased investment is needed urgently to build The IUCN Red List into a more complete ‘Barometer of Life’. To do this we need to increase the number of species assessed from the current count of 71,576 to at least 160,000 by 2020, improving the taxonomic coverage and thus providing a stronger base to enable better conservation and policy decisions.

Join us in celebrating the contribution that The IUCN Red List has made in guiding conservation for 50 years – spread the word, get involved, follow our news   @amazingspecies



News Releases

Eagle soars over London to launch art exhibit supporting threatened species

20 November 2014
Darshan the Imperial Eagle soars towards London's Tower Bridge
Photo: Freedom

This week, an Eastern Imperial Eagle named Darshan flew over London’s Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Olympic Park with a Sony Action Cam strapped to its back to promote the opening of the Here Today art exhibition in support of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.

Here Today will showcase contemporary art featuring threatened species in a wide variety of media including paintings, sculptures, videos, dance, music, and photography, to mark the 50th anniversary of the IUCN Red List. The event was organized by London-based Freuds, who enlisted the help of the Freedom Project, an international multimedia conservation initiative for eagles, to promote the exhibition.

Freedom’s eagles live in Les Aigles du Léman, a conservation park in Thonon, France. The park’s aim is to boost eagle numbers in Europe by captive-breeding the birds and preparing them for reintroduction to the wild. Falconer Jacques-Olivier Travers has specially trained some of these birds and was happy to bring his Eastern Imperial Eagle Darshan to London to help spread the word about Here Today, which opens on Tuesday 25 November in London.

Darshan’s stunts resulted in some breathtaking video footage, similar to that taken by Freedom’s White-tailed Eagle Victor who flew from the top of Paris’ Eiffel Tower in September this year to promote the Freedom film supported by SOS – Save Our Species.

Here Today will run from 25 November to 17 December 2014 at the Old Sorting Office, 21 New Oxford St, London.

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Global appetite for resources pushing new species to the brink

17 November 2014
Pacific Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus orientalis)

Pacific Bluefin Tuna, Chinese Pufferfish, American Eel, Chinese Cobra and an Australian butterfly are threatened with extinction.

Fishing, logging, mining, agriculture and other activities to satisfy our growing appetite for resources are threatening the survival of the Pacific Bluefin Tuna, Chinese Pufferfish, American Eel and Chinese Cobra, while the destruction of habitat has caused the extinction of a Malaysian mollusc and the world’s largest known earwig, and threatens the survival of many other species – according to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ released today at the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place in Sydney, Australia.

The IUCN Red List, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, now includes 76,199 assessed species, of which 22,413 are threatened with extinction. As nearly half of the newly assessed species occur within protected areas, IUCN calls for better management of these places to stop further biodiversity decline.

Andinobates dorisswansonae - Vulnerable. Photo: Mauricio Rivera Correa (CC BY-SA 2.5)“Each update of the IUCN Red List makes us realize that our planet is constantly losing its incredible diversity of life, largely due to our destructive actions to satisfy our growing appetite for resources,” says IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre. “But we have scientific evidence that protected areas can play a central role in reversing this trend. Experts warn that threatened species poorly represented in protected areas are declining twice as fast as those which are well represented. Our responsibility is to increase the number of protected areas and ensure that Andinobates tolimensis - Vulnerable. Photo: Cristian Gallego (CC BY-SA 3.0)they are effectively managed so that they can contribute to saving our planet’s biodiversity.”

With today’s update, the Pacific Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus orientalis) has moved from the Least Concern category to Vulnerable, which means that it is now threatened with extinction. The species is extensively targeted by the fishing industry for the sushi and sashimi markets predominantly in Asia. Most of the fish caught are juveniles American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) - Endangered. Photo: Clinton & Charles Robertson (CC BY 2.0)which have not yet had a chance to reproduce and the population is estimated to have declined by 19 to 33% over the past 22 years.

Existing marine protected areas do not provide sufficient protection for the species. The expansion of marine protected areas, within 200 miles of the coast and incorporating breeding areas, could help conserve the Arrayan (Myrcianthes ferreyrae) - Critically Endangered. Photo: Fiorella Nasha Gonzalesspecies, according to IUCN experts.

“The Pacific Bluefin Tuna market value continues to rise,” says Bruce Collette, Chair, IUCN Species Survival Commission Tuna and Billfish Specialist Group. “Unless fisheries implement the conservation and management measures developed for the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, including a reduction in the catches of juvenile fish, we cannot expect its status to improve in the short term.”

The Chinese Pufferfish (Takifugu chinensis) has entered the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. Its global population is estimated to have declined by 99.99% over the past 40 years due to overexploitation. A popular food fish in Japan, it is among the top four fugu species consumed as sashimi. One of the world’s most poisonous fish, Anzia centrifuga - Vulnerable. Photo: Reidar Hauganfugu need to be expertly prepared before consumption. The Chinese Pufferfish occurs in several marine protected areas throughout the coastal waters of China. Conservation measures, such as the creation of marine protected areas which are annually closed to trawling, have been implemented. However, harvest still needs to be urgently controlled to prevent the species’ extinction, say IUCN experts.

The American Eel (Anguilla rostrata), listed as Endangered Chinese Cobra (Naja atra) - Vulnerable. Photo: Skink Chen (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)is threatened by barriers to migration; climate change; parasites; pollution; habitat loss and commercial harvest. Due to the decline of the Japanese Eel (Anguilla japonica), also listed as Endangered, the intensive eel farming industry in East Asia is seeking to replenish seed stock with other species, such as the American Eel. This has led to increased reports of poaching of the American Eel in the United States. Whilst the combination of these threats is placing pressure on the species, positive conservation action could result in an improvement in its status.

The Chinese Cobra (Naja atra) has been newly assessed as Vulnerable. Its population has declined by 30 to 50% over the past 20 years. Chinese Cobras are found in south-eastern China, Taiwan, northern Viet Nam and Lao PDR, and are among the top animal species exported from mainland China to Hong Kong for the food market. Chinese Cobras are found in protected areas such Bombus fraternus - Endangered. Photo: Paul H. Williamsas Ailaoshan Nature Reserve, Daweishan Nature Reserve (Yunnan) and Kenting National Park (Taiwan). Although international trade in the species is regulated, there is an urgent need to strengthen national conservation initiatives to ensure its survival.

“The growing food market is putting unsustainable pressure on these and other species,” says Jane Smart, Global Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Group. “We urgently need to impose strict limits on harvesting and take Brinckiella arboricola - Endangered. Photo: Piotr Naskreckiappropriate measures to protect habitats.”

This Red List update also highlights several species that have been impacted by habitat destruction, including all 66 threatened chameleon species, despite some of these species occurring within protected areas. The Giant East Usambara Blade-horned Chameleon (Kinyongia matschiei), endemic to the East Usambara mountains of Tanzania, has been listed as Endangered. Like many other chameleons, Giant East Usambara Blade-horned Chameleon (Kinyongia matschiei) - Endangered. Photo: Stephen Zozayathis species uses colour for communication. It also darkens when stressed and wraps its tail around branches to remain secure. Found in the Amani Nature Reserve, a protected area, this reptile is threatened by the clearance of forests for agriculture, charcoal production and extraction of timber.

The Black Grass-dart Butterfly (Ocybadistes knightorum) has entered the IUCN Red List as Endangered. Found only in the northern New South Wales coastal region of Black Grass-dart Butterfly (Ocybadistes knightorum) - Endangered. Photo: Shane RumingAustralia, the species is threatened primarily due to the invasion of introduced weeds and coastal development destroying its habitat. A significant proportion of its habitat exists in protected areas such as Bongil Bongil National Park and Gaagal Wonggan (South Beach) National Park, and the effective management of these areas could play an important role in securing the species’ future. The threat from weed invasion is being managed in some reserves where key habitat patches have responded well to weeding, resulting in successful habitat rehabilitation.

Two species have been declared Extinct due to habitat destruction. Plectostoma sciaphilum, a snail known from a single limestone hill in Peninsular Malaysia is now listed as Grandiphyllum schunkeanum - Critically Endangered. Photo: M. A. CampacciExtinct as a result of the hill being entirely destroyed by limestone quarrying by a large company. The future of several other species in the region is uncertain for similar reasons. Whilst some mining companies are starting to take the necessary steps to reduce impact, IUCN is urging stronger commitment to prevent further extinctions.

The St Helena Giant Earwig (Labidura herculeana) – the world’s largest known earwig attaining a length of up to 80 mm – has also gone extinct. Previously found in Horse Threadfin Porgy (Evynnis cardinalis) - Endangered. Photo: David CookPoint Plain, a protected area on St Helena Island, the last confirmed live adult of this insect was seen in May 1967. Since the early 1960s, its habitat has been degraded by the removal of nearly all shelter-providing surface stones for construction purposes. Increased predator pressures from mice, rats and invasive predatory invertebrates also contributed to the earwig’s extinction.

Kaputar Pink Slug (Triboniophorus sp. nov. Kaputar) - Endangered. Photo: Michael Murphy“These recent extinctions could have been avoided through better habitat protection,” says Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. “Today’s update also highlights two amphibian species which have improved in status thanks to successful management of Colombia’s Ranita Dorada Reserve, where they occur. We need to take more responsibility for our actions to see many more successes like this one, and to have a positive impact on the health of our planet.”

For more information or interviews please contact:

Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations
+61 (0) 43 40 25 278

Lynne Labanne, IUCN Global Species Programme, IUCN
+41 79 527 7221

IUCN Red List Partner quotes:

“Saving threatened species requires identifying and conserving the most significant sites for nature. BirdLife's Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas are used by governments worldwide to help target the designation of protected areas”, says Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Head of Science.

“We are living in a world where nature is under the gun more than ever before, and we need to recognize nature doesn’t need people. People need nature. These species are important in their own right, but also are essential for our own survival because they are important cogs in the complex and delicate ecosystems that provide human beings with essential ecosystem services such as fresh water, climate regulation, disaster prevention, and many others,” says Dr Russell A. Mittermeier, Executive Vice Chair of Conservation International. “As we enter the 6th World Parks Congress in Sydney, we need to recognize that protected areas are essential for the long-term survival of endangered species, but also are fundamentally important in meeting the major challenges facing our planet, from putting society on a sustainable development path to adapting to climate change. There has never been more urgency to create, effectively manage and finance parks and protected areas than now, and we hope that there will be major commitments made at this Congress to change the scale of protection worldwide - for all the benefits that protected areas provide."

"Of particular concern is the decline of fish like the Pacific Bluefin Tuna due to overexploitation. We have seen the near extinction already of species like the Atlantic Cod due to similar poorly regulated practices. This should be a clear warning signal that we need better regulation and enforcement of marine fisheries, combined with the establishment of marine protected areas that secure important spawning areas to allow for the recovery of severely depleted stocks,” says Dr Thomas Lacher, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University. “The World Parks Congress, currently taking place in Sydney, Australia, is addressing these concerns in numerous sessions and meetings, but we need broad international collaboration to make these plans a reality."

“It is so encouraging to see many plant species being added to the Red List for the first time. Species in the birch family have now been assessed, for example, showing which trees are in urgent need of conservation attention,” says Sara Oldfield, Secretary General, Botanic Gardens Conservation International. “Birches are vital components of temperate ecosystems and we cannot afford to lose any single species.”

Examples of other species that have been added in this update:

Charopa lafargei, listed as Critically Endangered, is a new species of snail discovered at the northern end of Gunung Kanthan, Malaysia. It has been named after the mining company Lafarge recognising that most of the hill is within a concession being quarried by Lafarge Malaysia. The continued existence of this species will depend in large part on the actions of the company.

The Kaputar Pink Slug (Triboniophorus sp. nov. “Kaputar”) is endemic to Mount Kaputar in New South Wales, Australia. It is listed as Endangered based on its restricted range and threats from climate change and habitat loss. The species is naturally very limited in its distribution and habitat requirements, as it occupies the highest parts of Mount Kaputar and as the area increases in temperature and habitats disappear, this species has nowhere to move to. Habitat is being degraded by increased frequency of fire and grazing of feral pigs. Much of the high-elevation wet eucalypt forest on freehold properties bordering the eastern edge of Mount Kaputar National Park has been cleared for agriculture and it is likely that the majority of off-park habitat for this species has been lost.

The Giant Kokopu (Galaxias argenteus), a freshwater fish endemic to New Zealand, has been assessed as Vulnerable. Whilst it is harvested as a component of the domestic whitebait fishery, this species has suffered decline mainly as a result of the loss and degradation of its habitat through drainage of wetlands and straightening of river channel systems. Around 85 to 90% of New Zealand's wetlands have been lost over the last 100 years. There are, however, secure stronghold populations of the species in Rakiura National Park, a protected area on Stewart Island. Conservation measures are being undertaken to save the species from extinction, including shortening of the whitebait season.

Warneckea cordiformis, a flowering plant found in Mozambique, has been listed as Critically Endangered due to habitat clearing for subsistence agriculture and cutting for poles. Namacubi forest, the only known location for the species, is at immediate risk of being bisected by a new road for the oil and gas industry, resulting in increased access to and clearance of the forest. Currently there are no conservation actions recorded for this species and it does not occur in any protected areas.

A North American bumblebee species, Bombus fraternus, has entered the IUCN Red List as Endangered. Its range size and abundance in modern records (2002-2012) have declined by 29% and 86%, respectively, relative to historical records (1805-2001). Habitat loss due to the conversion of grasslands to agriculture is likely the major threat to this species. Much of its range overlaps with prime agricultural areas, particularly for corn production. Pesticide exposure in suitable habitat may also be causing declines. Corn seed in North America is now almost ubiquitously treated with neonicotinoids a pesticide group known to negatively impact bees

Carpinus tientaiensis – Critically Endangered. This species is endemic to China, where it occurs in the Province of Zhejiang. It is rare; only 21 individuals are believed to exist in the wild. Forests in the Zhejiang region are threatened by conversion to bamboo, tea and other commercial plantations. As the population is so small, any loss of habitat will be detrimental to the survival of this species. A small population also makes this species susceptible to stochastic events.

Examples of species that have improved status:

The amphibian species Andinobates dorisswansonae is known only from a single forest fragment in the Cordillera Central of the Colombian Andes. This species was previously listed as Critically Endangered because of habitat loss and degradation caused by cattle grazing, logging and agricultural expansion. The forest fragment where this species occurs is now included in a protected area: the Ranita Dorada Amphibian Reserve, which was established in 2008. This reserve is currently well protected, thereby abating continued habitat loss for this species. There are ongoing restoration efforts underway, along with an environmental education program to generate awareness of the species within the local community. This protection has resulted in the species being down-listed to Vulnerable. It is vital to this species that this reserve continues to be well managed to prevent future habitat loss.

Andinobates tolimensis is another amphibian species that is also known only from the Cordillera Central of the Colombian Andes. Previously listed as Endangered, this species has now been down-listed to Vulnerable. The threat from habitat loss and degradation caused by agricultural activities in the area are no longer as severe because the species’ entire range is now included within the Ranita Dorada Amphibian Reserve. It is vital to this species that this reserve continues to be well managed to prevent future habitat loss.

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Behind the frontlines: Interagency cooperation supporting rangers' work in Thailand

15 November 2014
Seized rosewood during patrol in Thap Lan National Park

Updating SOS on project developments from an emergency funding grant for work in Thap Lan National Park, Thailand, Eric Ash of Freeland Foundation, an IUCN Member, is succinct. “While it is critical to support front-line rangers and other park-based stakeholders first and foremost, reducing rosewood poaching requires considerable enforcement efforts at all levels, from the forest, Forests of Thap Lan National Park. Photo: Eric Ash / FREELANDthrough trafficking routes, and in end-markets” he explains.

This puts into perspective the importance and value of a series of monthly interagency meetings which took place from August 2013 – January 2014, creating a platform for cooperation between 19 local, provincial, and national agencies and organizations.

Representatives meeting to discuss rosewood issue Photo: IUCN/ Nantana Atibodhi“The mobility of the criminal networks is one issue at the heart of the problem and requires sustained involvement of a number of these organizations”. In light of this urgency, Eric advises that the number of stakeholders attending the meetings and agreeing to cooperate on stopping rosewood poaching was unprecedented in the world of conservation in Thailand.

This potentially serves as a model for other large-scale, transboundary conservation issues, he adds. “Contrary to Fetching up to $50,000 per cubic metre, rosewood is a hot product for international criminals Photo: Sayan Raksachart FREELANDpublic perception, conservation is not the sole responsibility of environmental protection agencies and national parks”, he points out.

Attendees at these meetings included senior representatives of the Department of National Parks (DNP), the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division (NRECD), the Border Patrol Police Bureau, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and the Royal Rosewood poachers caught on camera traps Photo: FREELANDForestry Department as well as several provincial organizations.

Discussions varied but included topics such as rosewood poaching prevention in Thap Lan National Park; trafficking of rosewood in and near Thap Lan border areas; infiltration of foreign and domestic poaching groups into the park; defining responsibilities across agencies and jurisdictions; alternative livelihood promotion to reduce dependence on poaching and equipment support by other enforcement agencies to Rangers training to be ready for apprehending poachers Photo: Sayan Raksachart / FREELANDname a few. 

Essentially, the meetings have helped to elevate the status of rosewood nationally and encouraged cooperation between participating agencies to overcome challenges at the park level Eric advises. While it will take some time before it can be determined if agreements at the meetings are honored, a number of successes have already been achieved according to Freeland. For example, immediately following these meetings, the park received greater cooperation from local police. In addition to sharing information with the park, both the park and local police were able to coordinate joint operations to apprehend rosewood poachers.

The meetings also generated greater support from local administrative officials, particularly in providing information leading to the arrest of poachers. Additionally, the DNP’s Protection and Suppression Division committed to a full year of support to augment protection efforts by existing ranger teams. This has already increased seizures of rosewood while also providing on-the-job training of Thap Lan staff in enforcement and investigations Eric reports.

It is worth reflecting on the success of such cooperative efforts to support the achievement of often challenging objectives such as the sustained conservation of the Vulnerable Siamese Rosewood (Dalbergia cochichinensis). We look forward to sharing further news on the Siamese Rosewood issue soon including a photographic report from Terre Sauvage Amateur Photography Award Winners Ann and Steve Toon.

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Strengthened cooperative management for Phoenix Ocean Arc

14 November 2014
US Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, and President of Kiribati, His Excellency Anote Tong, signing a cooperative agreement to conserve the Phoenix Ocean Arc
Photo: Nick Baker

Seascape-level conservation efforts in the Pacific have received a major boost with the signing of a cooperation arrangement between the Republic of Kiribati and the United States of America.

Kiribati President Anote Tong and US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signed a Cooperative Arrangement yesterday to help conserve the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) of Kiribati and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM) of the US. The aim of the Cooperative Arrangement is to jointly coordinate and support research and conservation activities for the two protected areas, collectively known as the Phoenix Ocean Arc.

The Phoenix Ocean Arc comprises an area of almost 800,000 square kilometres and includes island, coastal, open ocean and deep sea habitats. The cooperative management arrangement may include activities such as scientific research, law enforcement, removal of shipwrecks, conservation of seabirds, and eradication of non-native species, such as rats, from the remote atolls.

IUCN Oceania Regional Office received a US State Department Federal Assistance Award through the US Embassy in Suva in May 2013 to facilitate three meetings between the management of PIPA and PRIMNM to strengthen engagement and establish a working relationship between the two marine protected areas. The meetings were held in Tarawa, Honolulu and Suva and the Cooperative Arrangement was the main output of this small grant.

It was appropriate that the Arrangement was signed at the sixth IUCN World Parks Congress, a landmark global forum on protected areas held every 10 years. Building on the theme “Parks, People, Planet: Inspiring Solutions”, the congress presents an opportunity to share knowledge and innovation, setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come.

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IUCN identifies threatened freshwater biodiversity sites in the Mediterranean

14 November 2014
An inlet on Lake Skadar, Albania and Montenegro. This large Mediterranean lake and its associated catchment is a freshwater Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) supporting at least 24 species of threatened or restricted range freshwater species
Photo: Geert De Knijf

Out of the 167 freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas identified, mapped and validated throughout the Mediterranean region, 75 percent were found outside the boundaries of any pre-existing protected areas or other KBAs, according to the main results of an IUCN assessment revealed today at the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place in Sydney, Australia.

The Barada Spring KBA, Syria. This spring was almost completely drained in 2008 to meet the growing needs for water. As a consequence the endemic fish species, Pseudophoxinus syriacus (CR) (inset), is now possibly Extinct Photo: Jörg FreyhofAn estimated 70-75% of the world’s inland wetlands, along with many of the freshwater species that live in them, have been lost in the last 100 years. Freshwater biodiversity is poorly represented within protected areas, which are a critical tool for conservation of these habitats. It is urgently needed to identify critical sites of freshwater biodiversity as the basis for a more representative protected areas network for freshwater species. A new assessment coordinated by IUCN sets the foundation for such a network in the Harvesting Nile Tilapia in Algeria by V.Crespi Photo: V. CrespiMediterranean Basin Hotspot, a region rich in highly threatened freshwater species.

IUCN reveals that at least 167 sites in the Mediterranean Basin qualify as freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) covering a total area of 302,557 km2. Of these KBAs, 40 also meet the criteria qualifying them as Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) sites, representing some of the last remaining refuges for one or more Critically Endangered or Endangered species.

“Through this project we are putting freshwater biodiversity on the map in a region of the world where pressures on inland wetlands are rapidly driving species to the edge of extinction – a number have already been lost. The next crucial step is to build widespread awareness of these important sites and to stimulate targeted conservation on the ground” commented Will Darwall Manager of the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit and project coordinator.

KBAs are globally significant areas for the persistence of biodiversity and can guide the selection of new protected areas or the expansion of existing site networks. They were also recognized by the Convention on Biological Diversity as important for reaching global protected area targets.

Increasing severity of droughts, hydrological alterations following construction of dams, over-abstraction of surface and ground waters, water pollution and invasive species are the primary threats to freshwater species according to the experts.

“KBAs are fragile freshwater ecosystems which must be properly managed as part of Integrated River Basin Management planning accounting for the wide range of uses of water across sectors” said Jörg Freyhof, European chair of the IUCN/WI Freshwater Fish Specialist Group and co-author of the report.

The project was funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, the MAVA Foundation and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), with contributions from the European Commission funded Biofresh and the National Parks Autonomous Agency (OAPN) of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment.

For more information on the freshwater KBAs go to:

For further information: Catherine Numa

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'Game-changing visual record' of Great Barrier Reef published

14 November 2014
Coral reef survey
Photo: Catlin Seaview Survey

IUCN World Parks Congress, Sydney, November 14 2014 - The Catlin Seaview Survey, in which IUCN is a partner, announced today that a complete visual and data record from its expeditions along the Great Barrier Reef is now available to anyone to use through the Catlin Global Reef Record.

  • Images also released in street view in Google Maps
  • More than 100,000 images spanning the 2,300 kilometre reef system now available to scientists on the Catlin Global Reef Record
  • High-definition photos to help scientific collaboration and marine park management

High-definition database

The Great Barrier Reef records, collected in collaboration with scientists from the Global Change Institute (GCI) at The University of Queensland, now include more than 100,000 images from 32 locations along the length of the UNESCO World Heritage Marine Site. The library of data and images is the most extensive published visual record of the Great Barrier Reef and includes 360-degree images, accurately GPS located.

Chief Scientist of the project, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, said: “This is the largest single collection of survey photographs of the Great Barrier Reef in history”.

The work was funded by global insurance company Catlin Group Limited. It is part of the Catlin Seaview Survey, which is documenting coral reefs around the world to create a baseline record of coral reef health. Through the imagery, the Survey is also revealing these underwater environments to a worldwide audience as well as providing important scientific information about the health of coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. Coral reefs are vulnerable to local stresses such as over-fishing and pollution, as well as climate change, making them some of the most fragile ecosystems in the ocean.

The Catlin Global Reef Record is a first-of-its-kind global database and standardised online research tool for coral reef ecosystems and is an important tool for scientists, marine park managers and conservation policy makers.

To mark the publication of the full database, images have also been released through Street View in Google Maps. Featuring 20 reefs, ranging across the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef, they are available for anyone to access and explore online.

Richard Vevers, Project Director of the Catlin Seaview Survey, said, “The survey is revolutionary in terms of the science, allowing us to assess the state of coral reefs 30 times faster than previous methods and to create a comprehensive baseline with which to monitor change. It is also revolutionary in terms of public engagement, allowing people to virtually explore these environments for the first time in history.”

The Catlin Seaview Survey uses a specially developed panoramic camera system mounted on an underwater scooter, the SVII, to produce high-definition images every three seconds. It enables the research team to survey on an unprecedented scale.

Re-survey of 2012 Great Barrier Reef sites

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg also announced that GCI’s team of scientists will undertake the Catlin Seaview Survey’s first re-survey of areas included in its baseline survey. Supported by the Waitt Foundation, later this month (November 2014), the team will spend 14 days revisiting 11 reefs from Cairns to the far northern sections of the Great Barrier Reef. The team will document the impact of the recent Tropical Cyclone Ita to these reefs when it struck the region in April this year. In addition, the re-survey will provide a current record in advance of potential coral bleaching events that may occur during the southern hemisphere’s summer.

“Our work in creating the baseline becomes even more powerful when a location we have surveyed is revisited by our own team or other researchers. The baseline enables scientists and marine park managers to assess what has changed and begin to understand how they are changing, what is causing those changes and how to best conserve them in future,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of the IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme, and key partner to the Catlin Seaview Survey said: “The Catlin Seaview Survey is a game changer in coral reef management. Now reef managers have the ability to assess direct changes to their reefs over large areas and take action on an ecosystem wide scale”.

Jenifer Austin, Manager of the Google Ocean Program, said, “We are excited to be more than doubling our underwater Street View collection in partnership with Catlin Seaview Survey this month. This will make 27 new locations around Australia available in Google Maps - This is just one example of how we’re working hard to build the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world - complete with unique and beautiful imagery.

For more information:
Australia - Lorna Parry, Underwater Earth ( Tel: +61 411 54 54 59
UK/Europe - Rod Macrae ( Tel: +44 781 402 9819 or +44 1491 613 715
U.S. - Kristine Relja ( Tel : +1 (415) 677 2730

High-resolution photographs are available for download at:
Links to virtual dives in Street View in Google Maps:

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Major ivory haul seized in Cameroon

13 November 2014
Forest elephants of Dja Conservation Area under threat from poaching
Photo: Garth Cripps

A haul of ivory worth more than $190,000 has been seized in Cameroon, one of the largest single seizures made in the country.

The grim discovery of 39 forest elephant tusks was made by ecoguards from the Dja Biosphere Reserve, one of the protected areas under the Cameroon Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF), following a tip-off from an intelligence network supported by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

The forest elephant tusks were found concealed beneath cocoa bags in a truck intercepted in Djoum, a town in the southern region of Cameroon.

The illegal cargo weighed a total of 91kg, with each tusk weighing less than 4kg. The number and small size of the tusks indicates that at least 20 young elephants were slaughtered to obtain the black market goods.

The tusks were most likely destined for South East Asia where demand for ivory jewellery and trinkets has fuelled a 60% decline in African forest elephants since 2001.

A local businessman who owned the truck carrying the ivory has been arrested and is awaiting trial. Traffickers in Cameroon can face up to three years in prison for one tusk. But prosecutions are rare, which is why MINFOF and ZSL are keen to keep the case in the public eye.

Achile Mengamenya Goué, the MINFOF Conservator of the Dja Biosphere Reserve says: “A kilo of ivory can fetch up to $500 on the Cameroonian black market and up to $2,100 on the Asian market. It is therefore important to prosecute anyone involved in order to deter those tempted by this illegal trade.”

Forest elephants are the smallest African elephants. They have straighter, stronger tusks than their savannah cousins that enable them to push through dense undergrowth. Demand for their tusks means the elephants are now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation at ZSL, says: “Criminals involved in the illegal ivory trade must face heavy penalties if we are to have any chance of stopping it. People buying ivory also need to take a hard look at themselves and ask whether trinkets are worth the slaughter of these magnificent, majestic animals.”

ZSL has been working with local partners in Cameroon since 2007 to protect forest elephants. Conservation activities include supporting law enforcement, surveying elephant populations and empowering local communities to fight wildlife crime through community surveillance networks.

Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director of the IUCN Global Species Programme and Director of SOS – Save Our Species adds: “More frequently poachers and traffickers alike are being caught through the coordinated efforts of those on the frontline of conservation working under difficult conditions and taking significant risks.

“The success in Cameroon provides further impetus for conservationists meeting tomorrow at IUCN’s World Parks Congress who will be highlighting the role effective enforcement of protected areas plays in reducing wildlife crime.”
Tackling wildlife crime is a major focus for SOS - Save Our Species. ZSL’s work in the Dja Biosphere Reserve is one of 85 projects funded by the global partnership.

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Pacific Island leaders sail into Sydney Harbour with call to protect oceans

12 November 2014
The Mua Voyage vaka canoes about to sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Photo: Matt Pulford

The leaders of Kiribati, Cook Islands and Palau have called on the world to follow their lead in ocean protection, after sailing into Sydney Harbour aboard traditional voyaging canoes that have travelled more than 6,000 nautical miles from the Pacific Islands.

The three leaders are taking significant steps to protect the natural environments of the Pacific, with each committing to establishing some of the world’s largest marine protected areas.

The President of Kiribati, His Excellency Anote Tong, The Samoan vaka, Gaualofa, sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge Photo: IUCNhas established the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, which covers 408,250 square kilometres and is the largest and deepest UNESCO World Heritage site in the world.

The Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Hon. Henry Puna, is establishing ‘Marae Moana’, a marine park covering 1.1 million square kilometres.

The President of Palau, His Excellency Tommy Remengesau, has committed to protecting 80% of the nation’s exclusive economic zone – approximately 500,000 square kilometres.

The vaka canoes of the Mua Voyage at the Australian National Maritime Museum Photo: IUCN“The arrival of the voyage in Sydney is a historic occasion, for it reflects our shared values as voyagers and profound respect for our ocean. We want the ties that bind our ocean spirit to be a leading example for the rest of the world to bind their resources together in support of strengthened protected areas” said Prime Minister Puna.

The collective commitments by the three leaders are among the most significant protected area commitments in the world. These protected areas will be a haven for biodiversity that is threatened by overfishing, and will increase food security for the small and remote island communities that rely on the oceans for their food supply Tongan dancers at the Mua Voyage welcome ceremony at the Australian National Maritime museum Photo: IUCN– increasingly so as rising sea levels inundate food gardens on land.

“In a climate-challenged planet, the world needs big blue spaces like the Pacific Islands region” said IUCN Regional Director for Oceania, Mr Taholo Kami.

The arrival of the leaders comes on the opening day of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 – the landmark global forum on protected areas, held once every ten years. The Congress brings together more than 5,000 delegates from over 160 countries.

The leaders sailed into Sydney on the final leg of the Mua VoyageNSW Environment Minister, Hon. Rob Stokes MP, welcoming the Mua Voyage to Sydney and Australia Photo: IUCN – a voyage of more than 6,000 nautical miles, with the four 22-metre long double-hulled canoes having sailed from Cook Islands, Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand. In total, the crews aboard the canoes represented seven Pacific Island countries and territories.

“The Mua Voyage conveys a message from the Pacific Islands to the world about people, oceans and climate change. It seeks partnerships and commitments to help protect the great ocean and sustain the Pacific Islands for future generations, and for the health of the planet. The presence of the three Pacific Island leaders provided official backing to the voyage’s messages” added Mr Kami.

The voyage arrived at the Australian National Maritime Museum and received an official welcome from traditional owners and the Government of New South Wales.

Other dignitaries aboard the canoes included Vanuatu Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, and New Zealand’s Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development, Hon. Shane Jones.

The Mua Voyage was a joint initiative between IUCN Oceania and the voyaging societies of Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga. The Director General of IUCN, Ms Julia Marton-Lefèvre, was also aboard the canoes as they arrived into Sydney.

The Mua Voyage partnership also includes the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Okeanos Foundation, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), WWF, and the University of the South Pacific (USP). This was also made possible by generous grants from the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme and the IUCN Energy Programme, which is funded by the Governments of Austria, Italy and Luxembourg and the European Union.

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IUCN welcomes 17 new Members

10 November 2014
Cozumel Emerald Hummingbird
Photo: Roy Toft / International League of Conservation Photographers

The IUCN Council has admitted 17 new Members to IUCN.

The Council, President, Director General and entire Union extend a very warm welcome to the new Members and look forward to their active involvement.

New IUCN Members:

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Bangladesh creates new Marine Protected Area for Dolphins, Whales, Sharks and Turtles

07 November 2014
Pantropical spotted dolphin swimming in SoNG MPA
Photo: Rubaiyat Mansur

On November 3rd 2014, the Government of Bangladesh declared the country’s first Marine Protected Area, Swatch of No Ground, to safeguard whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and other oceanic species under the Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act, 2012.

The creation of the Swatch of No Ground Marine Protected Area (SoNG-MPA) Bryde`s whale breaching in the SoNG MPA Photo: Rubaiyat Mansuroccurs as the world’s conservation community prepares to meet at the World Parks Congress, a global event held every 10 years for the purpose of promoting safeguarding the earth’s most valuable natural places and formulating solutions to conservation challenges.

The SoNG-MPA was signed into law by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) on October 27, 2014. “This is a momentous occasion for Bangladesh and we are proud Water color change at Swatch-of-No-Ground MPA Photo: Rubaiyat Mansurto protect the rich diversity of marine species inhabiting our waters,” said Yunus Ali, Chief Conservator of Forests of the Government of Bangladesh.

Rubaiyat Mansur of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project added that “The SoNG MPA supports an astonishing diversity of dolphins, porpoises and whales including species in need of immediate protection. Declaration of Bangladesh’s first Marine Protected Area shows our country’s commitment to saving SOS funded project helps protect coastal cetaceans including Irrawaddy Dolphins Photo: Z Alomits natural resources and wonders.”

Spanning some 672 square miles (1,738 square kilometres) in size with a depth of 900+ metres, the Swatch of No Ground Marine Protected Area includes deep waters at the head of the submarine canyon from which it gets its name as well Entangled Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin from the SoNG Photo: Rubaiyat Mansuras coastal waters offshore the world’s largest mangrove forest in the Sundarbans.

The Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project implemented by WCS worked along with the Government of Bangladesh since 2004 to ensure the long-term protection of the cetaceans in waters of Bangladesh through collaborative efforts with local communities. Pioneering work in these waters found large numbers of Now there is some news to celebrate Photo: Rubaiyat MansurIrrawaddy dolphins, finless porpoises, Pacific humpback dolphins, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, pantropical spotted dolphins, spinner dolphins, and what may be a resident population of Bryde’s whales.

The creation of the SoNG MPA—which borders the territorial waters of India—will promote discussions with Bangladesh’s neighbour on a potential transboundary protected area, which contains similar species richness facing the same threats such as entanglement in fishing gears and climate change.

"The SOS funded project saving threatened coastal cetaceans in collaboration with gillnet fishermen in coastal waters of Bangladesh also played a major role in contributing information to plans for the MPA" explained Brian Smith, Director, Asian Freshwater and Coastal Cetacean Program, Wildlife Conservation Society and Asia Coordinator, IUCN SSC Cetacean Specialist Group.

About SOS

Protecting threatened species is critical because we are protecting parts of our life support system. Wildlife and nature supply is with so many basic necessities from food to fuel and shelter, but also inspiration in art, language and design to name but a few examples.

Right now we are protecting more than 200 species please contribute to SOS to help us continue to protect more of our natural heritage.

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A royal gift for the ‘Asian unicorn’

07 November 2014
Female Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis)
Photo: William Robichaud

In honour of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort of Denmark’s 80th birthday this year, Copenhagen Zoo recently made a generous donation to the IUCN Saola Working Group (SWG). The Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) is a Critically Endangered ungulate endemic to the Annamite Mountains of Lao PDR and Viet Nam. It is so rare and enigmatic that it is often referred to as the ‘Asian unicorn’.

The Prince Consort Henrik, husband of Queen Margrethe II, grew up in French Indochina (now Viet Nam), home to the Saola. He speaks Vietnamese, and remains particularly HRH the Prince Consort presenting to SWG Coordinator William Robichaud, on behalf of saola conservation, a check for 62,800 Danish kroner. Photo: Michael Petersenfond of the area. Consequently, to honour the Prince Consort on his birthday, Copenhagen Zoo allocated a portion of zoo entrance fees to the conservation of Saola and the efforts of the SWG. The initiative raised over 8,000 Euros and on 29 October 2014, a ceremony was held at the zoo during which the Prince Consort presented the donation to SWG Coordinator William Robichaud.

“Copenhagen Zoo has been a dedicated supporter of Saola conservation Copenhagen Zoo CEO Steffen Straede presenting HRH the Prince Consort with a framed certificate (and saola photo) explaining the gift. Photo: Michael Petersenfor several years now, and this is the latest and most interesting chapter,” said William Robichaud. “We are deeply grateful to both the zoo and the Prince Consort for their interest and generosity.”

The SWG is part of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group. It is a collaborative partnership of 23 members, drawn mainly from staff of national and international conservation organizations and Female Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), Lak Xao, Bolikhamxay Province, Laos, 1996. Photo: William Robichaudgovernment agencies in the two Saola range states.

The Saola inhabits dense forests along the Lao/Viet Nam border. Its scientific discovery in 1992 was one of the most surprising zoological finds of the 20th century. Little more than two decades later, it is one of the most threatened large mammals in the world. At best, only a few hundred animals remain alive today and numbers may be so low that viable populations no longer exist.

The Saola’s decline is due mainly to intense pressure from hunting and snaring of species valued in traditional East Asian medicine and the regional bushmeat trade. Paradoxically, Saola is not a target species; it is being driven to extinction largely as bycatch of unsustainable hunting efforts. The hunting pressure is aggravated by habitat fragmentation, particularly from road construction which extends the reach of poachers. The SWG and its partners are working with the governments of Lao PDR and Viet Nam on innovative approaches to reduce snaring and hunting in key sites for Saola. Leveraging the Saola as a conservation ‘flagship’ for the globally significant Annamite Mountains also benefits many other native species.

“Saving the Saola from extinction won’t be easy,” said William Robichaud. “Success will require broad collaboration, on an international scale. The support of Copenhagen Zoo – and now also the Danish royal family – is an exemplary model for this.”

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British zoos and aquariums celebrate Red November

07 November 2014
Red November
Photo: BIAZA

This year, IUCN is celebrating 50 years of the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, and to mark the anniversary, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) is asking its members to take part in Red November - a month dedicated to celebrating the conservation work of good zoos and the contribution of the IUCN Red List.

The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species and their links to livelihoods. It is not only a list of species and their status, but an invaluable tool for the conservation of the natural world.

Throughout the month, zoo and aquarium staff across the UK and Ireland will be wearing red, selling red cakes to raise funds for conservation, giving free entrance to visitors with different red items and highlighting in red which of their species are Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered and Extinct in the Wild, among other ‘red’ events.

BIAZA is even asking Parliamentarians to join in the celebrations and demonstrate their support for the IUCN Red List by wearing a red tie or red scarf, regardless of political allegiance, on 19 November 2014.

“The IUCN Red List identifies the most threatened species and sub-species of animals and plants on Earth via transparent criteria that can be measured on a regular basis,” said BIAZA CEO Dr Kirsten Pullen.

“Through identifying those species most at risk, the Red Data List allows conservation organisations and policy makers to focus species conservation efforts. For BIAZA zoos and aquariums, the Red List is a vital tool in the process of master planning the species held by our members, and informs the designation of conservation breeding programmes. The Red List is also a valuable education tool for describing the conservation status of our species to the public. BIAZA is thrilled to be supporting the celebrations throughout the month with Red November events.”

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Trade and Emerging Infectious Diseases in Amphibians

07 November 2014
Macaya Breast-spot Frog, Eleutherodactylus thorectes. Critically Endangered
Photo: Robin Moore iLCP

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, amphibians are the most threatened vertebrate group on earth. The following joint statement by the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG) and the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA) draws attention to the devastating impact of introduced disease and the urgent need for preventative measures.

The ASG and the ASA note with growing concern the recent reports on the impact of an introduced chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) and virus (Ranavirus) Orange-eyed green tree frog Photo: unexposed amphibian populations.

Amphibians are considered to be the most threatened vertebrate class in the world, with at least one in three species threatened with extinction. Amphibians have experienced declines and extinctions throughout the globe, with habitat loss and disease identified as key threat factors. These are concerning enough on their own, but even more so in combination with other threats, such as trade.

Unregulated and unmonitored global amphibian trade is considered a major mechanism for dispersal of invasive species, including non-native emergingAnderson's Crocodile Newt (Echinotriton andersoni) Photo: Henk Wallays infectious diseases (EID). There are currently no global safeguard standards to ensure that amphibians in the international trade are monitored and tested for amphibian diseases. This means that amphibian populations in unaffected areas are at a very high risk of being impacted by EIDs that may be transported by amphibian hosts in the pet trade.

The ASG and ASA urge all governments to prioritize this issue and to implement whatever actions are needed to stop Salamandra lanzai (France and Italy) Vulnerable Photo: F. Andreonethe spread of these devastating diseases.

ASG and ASA are currently in the process of exploring suitable global actions to address this major threat to amphibians worldwide.

For further information please write to

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A fraction of global military spending could save the planet’s biodiversity, say experts

05 November 2014
A Yellow Hornbill in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Photo: IUCN Photo Library © Jim Thorsell

Only one in four protected areas is well managed.

A fundamental step-change involving an increase in funding and political commitment is urgently needed to ensure that protected areas deliver their full conservation, social and economic potential, according to an article published today in Nature by experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).

The paper, The performance and potential of protected areas, comes ahead of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 – a once-in-a-decade global forum on protected areas opening next week in Sydney, Australia.

According to the authors, allocating US$45 - $76 billion to protected areas annually – just 2.5% of the global annual military expenditure – could help adequately manage those areas, ensuring their potential contribution to the well-being of the planet is fully met.

Many threatened species, such as the Asian elephant, the tiger, and all rhinoceros species, as well as numerous plants, reptiles and amphibians, survive thanks to protected areas. Well-managed marine protected areas contain more than five times the total large fish biomass and 14 times the shark biomass compared with fished areas.

“Protected areas offer us solutions to some of today’s most pressing challenges” says Dr James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and The University of Queensland and lead author of the study. “But by continuing with ‘business as usual’, we are setting them up for failure. A step-change in the way we value, fund, govern and manage those areas is neither impossible nor unrealistic and would only represent a fraction of what the world spends annually on defence.”

According to the latest data, protected areas cover around 15% of land and 3% of oceans. Experts warn, however, that despite the significant increase in their coverage over the past century, this is still short of the global 2020 targets to protect at least 17% of land and 10% of oceans. Many ecosystems remain poorly conserved because protected areas do not always encompass the most important areas for biodiversity.

Lagodekhi Nature Reserve, Georgia. Photo: IUCN/Tobias GarsteckiIn addition, the vast majority of existing protected areas that are well placed do not have sufficient resources to be effective, with some studies finding as few as one quarter of them are being effectively managed. Growing threats from climate change and the escalating poaching crisis place additional pressures on protected areas globally.

“Some of the most iconic protected areas, such as Ecuador’s Galapagos National Park, are undergoing significant degradation, partly due to an inability to manage them effectively,” says Professor Marc Hockings of The University of Queensland, co-author of the study and member of the IUCN WCPA. “But governments cannot be Rhinoceros in the Kunene National Park, Namibia. Photo: Sue Mainkasolely responsible for ensuring that protected areas fulfil their potential. We need to find new, innovative ways to fund and manage them, actively involving government, business and community groups.”

The paper also highlights an alarming increase in governments - in both developing and developed countries – backtracking on their commitments through funding cuts and changes in policy. A recent global analysis has documented 543 instances where protected areas saw their status downgraded or removed altogether.

For example, recent cuts to the Parks Canada budget have reduced conservation spending by 15%. In Uganda, active oil exploration and development is occurring inside many protected areas, including Murchison Falls National Park. In Indonesia, in 2010, mining permits were issued inside 481,000 hectares of protected areas, and in the Virgin Komi Forests in Russia, significant boundary changes have been made to reserves such as the Yugyd Va National Park to allow mining. The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman was removed from the World Heritage List after the government reduced the size of the reserve by 90% to allow for oil and gas extraction.

“There is a fundamental need for an increase in support of global protected areas, including better recognition, funding, planning and enforcement” says Nigel Dudley, co-author of the paper, from Equilibrium Research and The University of Queensland, member of the IUCN WCPA. “It is governments’ responsibility to step up but there is also the need for the wider community to take collective responsibility for protected areas.”

Protected areas conserve biodiversity and sustain a large proportion of the world’s poorest people by providing them with food, water, shelter and medicine. They play a key part in climate change mitigation and adaptation and bolster national economies through tourism revenues. In Rwanda, for example, tourism revenue from visits to see mountain gorillas inside Volcanoes National Park is now the country’s largest source of foreign exchange, raising US$200 million annually. In Australia, the 2012–2013 budget for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority was approximately AUS$50 million, but tourism to the reef was worth more than AUS$5.2 billion annually to the Australian economy.

“The growth of the modern global protected area movement over the last 100 years is arguably the greatest conservation achievement,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “It is also increasingly important for livelihoods and global security. The key now is for countries to recognize the return on investment that protected areas offer and realize that those places are fundamental to the future of life on earth. This is exactly what we hope to achieve at the upcoming IUCN World Parks Congress.”

Effective management of protected areas, the threats they face and the solutions they offer to today’s global challenges will be discussed at the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place in Sydney from 12 to 19 November 2014.


Ewa Magiera, IUCN media relations
+41 76 505 33 78

James Watson

Mary Dixon (WCS)

John Delaney (WCS)

The University of Queensland Communications team
+61 7 3365 1120

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A good year for Bazaruto's Dugongs

31 October 2014
Zero dugong mortalities in 1 year reports EWT
Photo: Jay Roode

Reaching October without a single Dugong mortality is something we need to shout about according to SOS Grantee Karen Allen from IUCN Member, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).

Emailing SOS from her base in Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, Mozambique Karen explains: “this means, that through SOS support- we have managed to prevent losses from Bazaruto's Dugong population for a full year.” While SOS funded Karen’s work, this short film illustrates just how many people helped make the project a success so far:



Fishing in the park is monitored for illegal practices Photo: EWTCEO of EWT, Yolan Friedmann called it “extraordinary news”. Karen elaborates, "preventing Dugong mortality in order to sustain the Western Indian Ocean's last viable Dugong population would never have been possible without support from SOS. This month marks a noteworthy conservation success in that our conservation efforts have prevented the loss of any Dugongs in a full 1 year- Thank you SOS!".

About SOS Preparing for boat patrols Photo: EWT

Protecting threatened species is critical because we are protecting parts of our life support system. Wildlife and nature supply is with so many basic necessities from food to fuel and shelter, but also inspiration in art, language and design to name but a few examples.

Right now we are protecting more than 200 species please contribute to SOS to help us continue to protect more of our natural heritage. Aerial Surveys support the boat patrols Photo: Karen Allen

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New commitments for the conservation of migratory species

28 October 2014
Scalloped Hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini)
Photo: Simon Rogerson

Internationally coordinated conservation measures for the world’s migratory species will be discussed next week at the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The IUCN Delegation, including participants from the Regional Office for South America and experts from the Species Survival Commission (SSC), will provide technical advice to Parties on the submitted proposals.

A total of 32 species have been newly proposed for listing on Appendix I, which requires strict protection, and/or on Appendix II, which requires coordinated management by the countries in which the species migrate. The total list includes three terrestrial mammals, two marine mammals, five birds and 22 fishes.

Among the listing proposals are several shark and ray species including all three species of Thresher Sharks, the Endangered and Critically Endangered Sawfishes, the Endangered Scalloped Hammerhead and Great Hammerhead, and the Silky Shark. The Vulnerable Reef Manta Ray is also proposed for listing along with the nine Mobula ray species, which are all threatened by fisheries and the emerging international market for their dried gill rakers.

“It’s bad enough that one quarter of the world’s shark and ray species are threatened with extinction, primarily by unregulated and unreported overfishing, but the plight of migratory sharks and rays is even worse, with almost half of all migratory species threatened,” says Sarah Fowler, Vice-Chair of the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group.

Reef Manta Ray (Manta alfredi). Photo: Guy Stevens“Until now, no Endangered or Critically Endangered migratory shark species have been included in the CMS Appendices, and no members of the seven shark families that are at greatest risk (including sawfishes and thresher sharks) have been listed. The Parties to CMS will have the opportunity to redress this imbalance and promote management through CMS to complement action by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations.”

European Eel (Anguilla anguilla). Photo: Bernard DupontThe Polar Bear, African Lion, and European Eel are proposed for listing on Appendix II. Polar Bears are under pressure from the effects of climate change, African Lion numbers have dropped by 30 percent over the last two decades, and the European Eel has suffered declines due to overfishing and dams which obstruct migratory pathways.

The global population of the Great Bustard, one of the heaviest flying birds of the world, has been proposed for Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus). Photo: Andrew E DerocherAppendix I. The range of the Great Bustard once stretched across the grassland and agricultural zones of Eurasia and Northern Africa, from Manchuria to Portugal and Morocco. Their range is now highly fragmented, and in many countries only a handful of dwindling breeding or wintering populations remain. These birds face a variety of threats, including collisions with overhead cabling, illegal hunting, destruction of eggs and chicks by agricultural machinery, and habitat conversion.African Lion (Panthera leo). Photo: Ralph Buij

“The proposal to list the entire global population of Great Bustards on Appendix I will secure additional protection for severely threatened populations in signatory states throughout Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa,” says Mimi Kessler, member of the IUCN SSC Bustard Specialist Group.

“We hope that the global listing of this species will also attract the attention of non-signatory states which host Great Bustard (Otis tarda). Photo: Aimee Kesslerimportant populations and facilitate coordination of conservation measures”.

Other issues to be discussed at the meeting include the illegal hunting of elephants, climate change, marine debris, the effects of renewable energy installations on migratory species, and illegal bird trapping.

CMS COP11 will convene in Quito, Ecuador from 4-9 November 2014.

For more information, please contact:

Arturo Mora

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160,000 species by 2020 – will you help?

15 October 2014
Help us assess 160,000 species by 2020!
Photo: IUCN

This year is an important milestone for IUCN as it marks the 50th anniversary of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. By scientifically documenting on a case-by-case basis the nature and severity of threats to the survival of species, The IUCN Red List helps drive meaningful and appropriate conservation action.

Effective conservation planning requires a thorough understanding of the species in question. When we lack knowledge about a species, for example habitat requirements and population trend, or if we do not understand its value and fragility, we are not in a good position to ensure its survival. By providing information on the ecology, link to human livelihoods, and extinction risk of species, The IUCN Red List serves as an indicator of the status of global biodiversity and as a crucial warning system.

So far we have assessed a little over 74,000 species. Several species groups, including mammals, birds, amphibians, sharks, conifers, cycads, and warm-water reef-building corals have already been comprehensively assessed.

We are proud of this achievement but this number still only represents about 5% of species that have been described so far and a much smaller percentage of the estimates for the total number of species globally. We must urgently expand The IUCN Red List to make it an even more powerful conservation tool.

Our goal is to assess 160,000 species by 2020, more than doubling the Red List’s current size. This will require a tremendous amount of work, from collecting, analysing and reviewing data to publication and dissemination. We need your help! Watch our new video, sign our pledge, and spread the word. Help us make The IUCN Red List a more complete ‘Barometer of Life’. The world’s species are counting on you.

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