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Support the IUCN Red List Bumblebee Campaign

30 June 2015
Bumblebee. Photo: Pieter van Marion (CC BY-NC 2.0)

For the next thirty days, you will hear a slight buzzing from The IUCN Red List. We have just launched The IUCN Red List bumblebee campaign!

Bumblebees are incredibly important animals. They are vital pollinators of both wild and crop plants. Many economically important plants, such as tomatoes and blueberries, rely on bumblebees to produce fruit. Worryingly, like other bees, many bumblebee species are in decline, largely due to agricultural intensification - leading to habitat loss and increased pesticide use - as well as climate change and introduced pathogens.

More than 200 of the world’s 250 bumblebee species still need to be assessed for The IUCN Red List in order to help prevent their decline.

Help us assess ALL bumblebees and move The IUCN Red List closer to its goal of assessing 160,000 species by 2020. We know this goal is ambitious – help us create a louder buzz. Please support our campaign and spread the word!

Sign up here to receive campaign updates.

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IUCN Red List Committee receives SCB Distinguished Service Award

13 August 2015
IUCN and Red List Partners at ICCB-ECCB 2015
Photo: IUCN

IUCN is delighted to receive a Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Distinguished Service Award for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Mike Hoffmann, Senior Scientist to IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC) and Chair of the IUCN Red List Committee, accepted the award on behalf of the wider Red List community at the 27th International Congress on Conservation Biology (ICCB) held in Montpellier, France, on 2 August 2015.

The SCB Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals, groups or institutions for distinguished service in any field associated with conservation biology and whose work has furthered the SCB mission, which is to “advance the science and practice of conserving the Earth's biological diversity”.

In accepting the award, Hoffmann paid tribute to the early pioneers of the IUCN Red List, to those who conceived and developed the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, to the expert members of the SSC, to the contributions of the Red List Partner institutions*, and to the staff of the IUCN Red List Unit.

“It is a welcome recognition of the extraordinary dedication shown by many, many thousands of conservation professionals who volunteer their knowledge, their data, and their time to create such an incredible resource,” said Mike Hoffmann. “A resource that is used to inform some of the most important decisions that affect the future of biodiversity.”

This recognition is very timely, as last year marked the 50th anniversary of The IUCN Red List. The IUCN Red List has evolved considerably since its very early beginnings. More than just a list of species and their status, the IUCN Red List has become one of the world’s most powerful conservation tools, providing information and analyses on the status, trends and threats to species to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation. In the last decade alone, the number of species assessments on the IUCN Red List has trebled, including major groups such as amphibians, cacti, reef-building corals, sharks, and freshwater crabs. Further species groups are on the way, with a goal to assess a total of 160,000 species by 2020, all the while keeping current assessments up to date.

“It is fair to say that without the voluntary work of the IUCN Red List Committee and the many thousands of experts in the SSC Specialist Groups, effective species conservation would be impossible,” said Piero Visconti, President of SCB’s Europe section and Chair of the Scientific Committee for the 27th ICCB.

*The Red List Partnership comprises BirdLife International, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Conservation International, Microsoft, NatureServe, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Sapienza Universita di Roma, Texas A&M University, Wildscreen, and Zoological Society of London.

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IUCN’s Save Our Species announces SOS Lemurs – an SOS Special Initiative

06 August 2015
Young black and white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata editorum)
Photo: Russ Mittermeier

In July 2015, SOS – Save Our Species launched its fourth Call for Proposals (CFP); this time dedicated to helping save Madagascar’s lemurs. Successful projects from this CFP will be the first grantees in the SOS Lemurs Special Initiative. For more information, applicants can follow this link to compete for a grant before 7th September 2015.

By aligning closely with the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Primate Specialist Group’s Lemur Action Plan published in 2014, this SOS Special Initiative, titled SOS Lemurs, is an application of needs based conservation action in a nutshell.

SOS Lemurs harnesses the aggregating potential of the SOS model: pooling funds from donors and disbursing them in the form of small to medium size grants to existing Madagascar-based conservation actors while applying world class project management to ensure every conservation dollar is used to its potential.

In this respect, SOS is actively engaging with public and private sector donors interested to join and leverage this partnership to help achieve their strategic environmental conservation goals concerning Malagasy biodiversity and ecosystems.

SOS Lemurs is also an excellent example of IUCN’s unique ability to convene and leverage the energies of various stakeholders in the global conservation community to achieve needs based conservation goals. In this case, SOS Lemurs connects donors with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, the IUCN Species Survival Commission and the Lemur Conservation Network – a coalition of 40 NGOs united to streamline conservation in Madagascar.

According to the IUCN Red List, over 90% of lemur species are threatened with extinction due to habitat destruction caused by slash-and-burn agriculture and illegal logging, as well as hunting. Combined, these pressures have made lemurs the most threatened mammal group on earth.

Rufous-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur rufifrons). Photo: Russ MittermeierStill, some might ask why protect lemurs? Dr. Russ Mittermeier, Executive Vice-Chair of Conservation International, an IUCN Member is succinct. “Lemurs are Madagascar’s most distinctive global brand and a major asset in scientific, cultural, and economic terms.”

Apart from being some of the most charismatic mammal species and being intrinsic to Madagascar as we know it, according to Dr. Mittermeier’s colleague Dr. Christoph Schwitzer, The Lemur initative also incorporates Malagasi communities, helping them protect their livelihoods. Photo: Russ Mittermeierlemurs play critical ecological roles in maintaining the island’s forest habitats. Healthy populations indicate a healthy environment and their loss could likely trigger extinction cascades. This would have likely disastrous consequences for local communities who depend on these habitats for their livelihoods, not least for revenues generated by lemur-based tourism.

Cue the development of the Lemur Action Plan in 2013. Forest on Madagascar, one of the Lemurs' habitats. Photo: Russ MittermeierDrawing on the collective expertise of primatologists forming the Primate Specialist Group of the IUCN SSC, this project evaluated the conservation status of all lemur species and developed a targeted plan to prevent their extinction. The total cost of which is estimated at USD $8 million.

Focusing on 30 of the highest priority areas for lemur conservation where site-based activities should be developed the plan is a roadmap to long-term lemur Isalo landscape, one of Madagascar's many landscapes. Photo: Russ Mittermeiersurvival. The speed and scope of implementation will depend on the funding raised through public and private sector partners who wish to join SOS Lemurs.

Interested parties can download the SOS Lemurs proposal document here. Meanwhile, immediate partnership queries should be directed to Dr. Jean-Christophe Vié , Director of SOS – Save Our Species.

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IUCN celebrates International Tiger Day 2015

29 July 2015
Tiger in the grass
Photo: Eric Kilby (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Statement by IUCN Director General, Inger Andersen, on International Tiger Day.

The tiger – iconic beast of the forest. A symbol of strength, grace and power. The stuff of legend.

It’s inconceivable that this magnificent creature which inspired the awe and wonder of our childhood could be pushed to the brink of extinction.

But indeed it has. Today we mark International Tiger Day – born at an international summit in 2010 that was held in response to the shocking fact that 97% of tigers disappeared during the 20th century with numbers plummeting from about 100,000 to around 3,000 today.

Remaining populations are now isolated and under increasing pressure from poaching for the Asian medicine trade, habitat loss and fragmentation, and the loss of the tiger’s prey species which people hunt for subsistence. As the communities living in and around important tiger habitats continue to grow, so too does the pressure on shrinking forest resources.

As a top predator, the tiger plays an important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The fate of the tiger is intrinsically linked to the fate of the forests and grasslands it inhabits and in turn, the fate of the people who rely on these resources for their food and livelihood.

Because their food sources are increasingly limited, tigers are forced to prey on livestock, bringing them into conflict with local communities. Attacks on people are on the rise and in many parts of the species’ range, retaliatory tiger killings by enraged communities are becoming more frequent, with the loss of key animals important for breeding and maintaining tiger subpopulations.

Resolving this human-tiger conflict epitomises the challenge of modern-day conservation – how to allow people and wildlife to live side by side, to benefit from each other.

Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme Photo: © Thomas Gelsi / IUCN Adapted from CIMMYT; Eric Kilby & Chìnmay - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0IUCN, with the support of the German Government and in partnership with the German Development Bank KfW, began the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme in 2014 and the first projects will be launched in the coming days, which will help boost global efforts. These projects will focus on monitoring tiger and prey populations and securing habitat corridors to connect isolated populations, while engaging local communities, in particular indigenous communities, to ensure that the activities are compatible with the sustainable development of these people’s livelihoods. In parallel, we are pleased to see a strong global desire for a continuation of the multi-partner Global Tiger Initiative (GTI). IUCN looks forward to working in close partnership with the GTI and its partners as this moves forward.

We know what is needed to safeguard tiger populations in the long term. It requires conserving and restoring habitats, carefully monitoring populations, and bringing an end to poaching. At the same time, the living conditions of local communities must be improved and they should be given access to alternative sources of livelihood in order to reduce the pressure on forest resources.

The tiger may well be in the spotlight today, but that spotlight must be widened to show the world that by saving this species, we can achieve so much more. We can make the forests of Asia the wild, beautiful and productive places they once were, and by doing so, improve the lives of millions of people.

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