Current News

Important Notices

Support The IUCN Red List

03 December 2014
Red List at 50

This holiday season, support The IUCN Red List.

As part of the Red List 50 campaign marking the 50th anniversary of The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, we have launched a special month-long holiday campaign to raise USD 25,000 - enough funds to assess 100 additional species. The holiday campaign will last until the end of December and aims to bring us one step closer to our 2020 goal of 160,000 assessed species. Please help us make the Red List a more complete ‘Barometer of Life’ and an even more powerful conservation tool.

Make your donation here: and please share this campaign with family and friends. The world’s species are counting on you.






News Releases

Sinkhole Cycad Conservation Project Featured in Leading Botanical Journal

25 January 2015
Sinkhole Cycad
Photo: Montgomery Botanical Centre

The Sinkhole Cycad project made an important scientific finding – botanic garden conservation collections can help support cycad survival.

The current issue of International Journal of Plant Sciences features the latest SOS-Save Our Species supported research by grantee, Montgomery Botanical Centre (MBC) and its collaborators. The paper, “Can a botanic garden cycad collection capture the genetic diversity in a wild population?,” explores how well the collecting protocols at MBC conserve the genes in wild cycads.

Using the Sinkhole Cycad, Zamia prasina, as a model, the team compared genetics of the native cycads with those grown at MBC.

Project Team with Zamia prasina Photo: MIchael CalonjeMichael Calonje led the effort to survey and describe this interesting species in 2009, and is co-author on the new paper. Michael explains, “because it occurs in dense groups at the bottom of sinkholes and is not found in the adjacent rainforest, the Sinkhole Cycad allows us the unique opportunity to sample the genetic diversity of entire populations and compare it to that of seedlings derived from seeds collected in these populations.”

Sinkhole Cycad Habitat Photo: Michael CalonjeThe study details what steps should be taken to successfully conserve cycads through careful horticulture, based on DNA analysis. “Considering the biology of the species is the first step,” states Patrick Griffith, lead author on the study.

Patrick further adds: "This is a very fundamental question for botanic garden efforts: Can we actually conserve plant species via horticulture? The answer is yes, if you follow Young cycads at Belize Botanic Garden Photo: Patrick Griffithcareful guidelines".

This is important because it provides an in-depth, scientific perspective to that basic question. "Beyond that, what makes this so exciting for me is how we brought a group of experts together – a multi-institutional and international team – and worked together to produce such a useful outcome".

"Our great colleagues made this possible, and the support of the SOS-Save Our Species grant built that team. The paper involved experts from Belize Botanic Gardens, USDA Chapman Field, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International, as well as MBC."

The paper has also been made freely available and open-access by the editors of International Journal of Plant Sciences – allowing conservation workers around the world to review the study at no cost.

Related links:




Do you have a permit for that cycad in your garden?

22 January 2015
Seven of South Africa’s cycad species number less than 100 individuals in the wild
Photo: EWT

It’s not alarmist to say that South African cycads are in more trouble from the current scourge of poaching than are our rhinos, asserts SOS Grantee, Adam Pires. As Skills Development Programme Manager with Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), an IUCN Member, Adam updates SOS on the progress with his project to protect South African Cycad species.

Adam reports that by the end of 2014, approximately 200 mixed law enforcement officials have been trained up as part of the project along with a further 200 members of the judicial system representing all the provinces in the vast country.

Following on from an article published in Environment Magazine (Summer 2014) highlighting the imminent nature of the threat, such progress is critical to the future of South Africa’s cycads.

200 law enforcement officials are trained learning how to identify endangered cycads Photo: EWTThe project aims to raise awareness about the scale of the poaching crisis and the implications of not acting. This involves a two-pronged approach: educate and train law enforcers to identify and distinguish protected plant species while also raising awareness among the judicial system about the importance and process of convicting wildlife crimes.

All species are protected under the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act, 2004. Meanwhile Adam’s Identifying cycads species is crucial in order to apply correct charges Photo: EWTproject focuses on Encephalartos species – all of which are listed under CITES Appendix I. Both of these legal structures prohibit the trade in wild collected specimens.

According to the IUCN Red List, seven of South Africa’s cycad species number less than 100 individuals in the wild and the country is at risk of losing 25 species to extinction if illegal harvesting is not halted immediately.

Understanding the legislation is important in order for Easy to use tools were developed to help in the process of cycads identification Photo: EWTofficials to identify an offence and apply the correct charges. The specific charges also need to correlate to the particular listing of the cycad in the legislative schedules.

This underlines the need to identify the species accurately in the first step. In addition, identifying the species is equally important for court proceedings and for sentencing. Because of the variety of cycads and their threatened status, the crime must fit the commercial value of the species in question.

25 cycad species are at risk of extinction if illegal harvesting is not halted immediately Photo: EWTHence the development of easy to use visually based identification tools was an important project milestone from late 2013. Coordinating effective, tried-and-tested practical and theoretical training modules that involve people from a variety of law enforcement agencies was the next step. These were piloted in 2013 and rolled out in 2014.

Because of the nature of wildlife crime such as poaching, paramount to the project is that law enforcers from different authorities attend, including the South African Police Service, the South African Revenue Service, the Provincial Nature Conservation Authorities and the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries. Fortunately, groups were receptive due to extended awareness raising activities prior to the 2014 training workshops schedule being announced.

While 2014’s milestones are encouraging, Adam acknowledges much more needs to be done. Appetites have been stimulated however: “We need to do more of these training sessions for officials including regular updates throughout the year “, commented Tommie Steyn, Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority (MTPA).

Related links:




Stunning new book commemorates 50 years of The IUCN Red List

19 January 2015
The IUCN Red List: 50 Years of Conservation

A new book, The IUCN Red List: 50 Years of Conservation, combines stunning wildlife photography with the voices of IUCN experts and renowned conservationists to celebrate 50 years of outstanding effort and achievement by a worldwide network of scientists and partner organisations that together build and maintain The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Written by Jane Smart, Craig Hilton-Taylor and Russell A. Mittermeier and edited by Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier, founder of the International League of Conservation Photographers, the book was published by CEMEX on the occasion of The IUCN Red List’s 50th anniversary in 2014, and is a sequel to The Red Book: The Extinction Crisis Face to Face published in 2001.

The IUCN Red List: 50 Years of Conservation recounts the history of the Red List and demonstrates its value as an unparalleled goldmine of knowledge to guide critical conservation action. The book includes sections on the illegal wildlife trade, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, conservation success stories, as well as testimonials of IUCN Red List partners, all alongside beautiful photographs and descriptions of threatened animals, plants, and fungi.

The book discusses the conservation challenges ahead and IUCN’s goal of expanding the Red List into a true “Barometer of Life”. Our target is to increase the number of species assessed to 160,000 by 2020, more than doubling the Red List’s current size. This significant increase in species knowledge will provide a stronger base for effective conservation action to combat the extinction crisis and halt the loss of biodiversity. You can help us reach our goal by donating here.

The IUCN Red List: 50 Years of Conservation can be downloaded for free on iPad and Mac here.

The IUCN Red List tells us where we ought to be concerned and where the urgent needs are to do something to prevent the despoliation of this world. It is a great resource for the work of conservationists.” – Sir David Attenborough

Related links:




IUCN welcomes Burundi as a new State Member

19 January 2015
Photo: OBPE

IUCN extends a warm welcome to the Republic of Burundi, which has officially announced its decision to become a Member of IUCN by endorsing the IUCN Statutes. The Ministry for Water, Environment, Land Management and Urban Development confirmed the Government’s decision and has designated the Burundian Office for the Protection of the Environment (OBPE) as its liaison with the IUCN Secretariat.

Located in Central Africa between the Democratic Republic of Congo (to the west), Rwanda (to the north) and Tanzania (to the south and east), Burundi has a surface area of 27,834 km² including the 2,634 km² that make up part of Lake Tanganyika. Its population is estimated at around 10 million, i.e. an average density of 300 inhabitants per km².

Its landscape is made up of a combination of hard and soft rocks, the result of a series of tectonic movements that profoundly changed the surface of East Africa, and which is common to all of the countries in this area.

Photo: OBPEOver 90% of the population depends on the direct use of natural resources, mainly those associated with agriculture and livestock farming, artisanal mining and logging. However, the increase in the need for resources linked to excessive population growth, combined with low economic growth and the lack of capacity to sustainably manage these issues, are the main factors contributing to environmental degradation and the country’s increasing vulnerability to climate change.

“IUCN warmly welcomes the Government of Burundi's membership of IUCN and undertakes to support Burundi in its efforts to achieve the sustainable management of its environment Photo: OBPEas well as the conservation of its natural resources” says Professor Aimé Joseph Nianogo, IUCN Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

In order to guarantee the conservation of natural ecosystems, Burundi, a member of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, has ratified several international conventions including: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Ramsar Convention, the Photo: OBPEConvention on Migratory Species (CMS), the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (ACCNNR), the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO), the Washington Convention (CITES), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In 1997, the Government of the Republic of Burundi adopted both a National Strategy for the Environment and an Environmental Action Plan, aimed at achieving its objective of conserving Burundi’s biodiversity and managing it in a sustainable manner. In 2004, a National Strategy and an Action Plan for capacity building in biodiversity were drawn up and have since been implemented. The private sector and several non-governmental organizations also play a key role in Burundi’s institutional conservation action plan.

“Nature conservation in Burundi continues to ensure the preservation of our biodiversity for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits provided by natural resources, and is the basis for resilience against climate change. We expect to see this reality reinforced and consolidated in the coming years", commented Mr. Mohamed Feruzi, Director General, Burundian Office for the Protection of the Environment.

The Republic of Burundi joins five non-governmental organizations that are already Members of IUCN: the Burundian Association for the Protection of Birds [Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Oiseaux, ABO], the Association for the Protection of Natural Resources for the Well-being of the Population in Burundi [Association Protection des Ressources Naturelles pour le Bien-Etre de la Population au Burundi], the Tubane de Gikuzi Association [Association Tubane de Gikuzi], the Burundian Nile Discourse Forum [Forum Burundais de la Société Civile du Bassin du Nil] and the Burundian Organization for the Defence of the Environment [Organisation de Défense de l`Environnement au Burundi]. In addition, the Burundi National Committee of IUCN Members was officially recognised by the IUCN Council at its 83rd meeting, held in May 2014.

In joining the Union, Burundi aims to strengthen its commitment to the protection of its environment and the sustainable development of its natural resources. More specifically, the Burundian Office for the Protection of the Environment plans to maintain its conservation strategy, benefiting from IUCN’s expertise, in particular to develop its programme funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which addresses issues related to biodiversity and protected areas, land degradation, the conservation of aquatic resources and the sustainable management of forests.

For more information, please contact:

  • Eva Paule Mouzong, Regional Head for Institutional Development and Communication (IUCN Programme for West and Central Africa). E-mail:
  • Félicité Mangang, Officer in charge of Communication and Relations with the Members (IUCN Programme for West and Central Africa). E-mail:

Other languages:

Related links:




IUCN welcomes 13 new Members

14 January 2015
Peacock butterfly
Photo: William Warby/Flickr

The IUCN Council has admitted 13 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:

The Bureau of Council took the decision to admit the 13 Members on 24 December 2014. This decision was subsequently ratified by Council in line with Regulation 58 of the IUCN Statutes.

Other languages:

Related links:




Inger Andersen takes up her duties as IUCN Director General

13 January 2015
Inger Andersen
Photo: Inger Andersen

This week IUCN extends a warm welcome to Inger Andersen as she takes on her new role as Director General.

Previously Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the World Bank, Ms Andersen was responsible for the Bank’s strategy and operations throughout the region.

She succeeds Julia Marton-Lefèvre who served as IUCN Director General since January 2007.

A Danish national, Ms Andersen began her career working on desertification and dryland issues in Sudan, and with the UN Sudano-Sahelian Office in New York. With the establishment of the Global Environment Facility in 1992, she was asked to serve as the Arab Region Coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a position she held until 1999 when she moved to the World Bank.

At the World Bank, Ms Andersen worked primarily on water, environment and sustainable development, with special focus on the Africa and MENA Regions. In 2010, she was named Vice President for Sustainable Development, overseeing the technical quality of the Bank’s portfolio and leading the Sustainable Development Network. In view of her long association with the Middle East, Ms Andersen was requested to take on the Vice President position for the region at the onset of the Arab Spring the following year. Ms Andersen was also appointed Head of the CGIAR Fund Council in 2010.

“I am extremely pleased and honoured to be taking on the role of Director General at IUCN,” said Ms Andersen. “As an indispensable source of fact-based intelligence for the conservation community and beyond, IUCN is uniquely positioned to help the world tackle this century’s vast environmental and societal challenges. I am delighted to be leading those efforts."

Related links:




Human development and biodiversity conservation can go hand in hand, study finds

12 January 2015
A business-as-usual scenario would bring increased deforestation and carbon emissions, putting 1 in 4 carnivore and ungulate species at a higher risk of extinction by 2050.
Photo: Johannes Förster / IUCN

A development scenario involving reduced meat consumption and crop waste, as well as less energy-intensive lifestyles can help us reach global development goals while also protecting biodiversity, according to a new study.

The paper, Projecting global biodiversity indicators under future development scenarios, co-authored by 10 institutions including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sapienza University of Rome and BirdLife International, is published in the journal Conservation Letters.

The study assesses the impact of future human development scenarios on the conservation of the world’s terrestrial carnivores and ungulates (hoofed mammals). It reveals that a business-as-usual development scenario would bring increased deforestation and carbon emissions, putting one in four species of carnivore and ungulate at a higher risk of extinction by 2050.

“Today’s growing global demand for food, water and energy is satisfied by increasing agricultural productivity and the use of fossil fuels and other resources,” says co-author Thomas Brooks, Head of IUCN’s Science and Knowledge Unit. “This comes at a high environmental cost.”

“In the paper we demonstrate for the first time that human development goals and biodiversity conservation do not need to compete,” says lead author Piero Visconti of the IUCN Red List Global Mammal Assessment Program at Sapienza University of Rome, and Microsoft Research. “We found that an alternative scenario exists that can eradicate hunger and poverty and improve overall human well-being while enhancing the status of biodiversity globally.”

In this ‘Consumption Change’ scenario, access by the poor to food, energy and water is increased to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals while per capita consumption – and meat consumption in particular – in the developed world is reduced, together with crop waste. These actions should result in reduced wildlife habitat loss and greenhouse gas emissions, thereby decreasing species extinction risk, according to the paper.

Alongside changes in consumption and more efficient production practices, other measures would be needed. These include reduced logging, progressive environmental legislation such as carbon taxation, strategic placement of protected areas and the use of sustainable agricultural practices to increase crop yields.

The study shows how biodiversity indicators can be used together with social, economic and environmental scenarios to help develop sustainable development policy.

“This kind of study is key for the work of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, whose aim is to inform global policy making to address the current biodiversity crisis,” says co-author Rob Alkemade of PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Head of the Technical Support Unit for the IPBES assessment on scenarios and modelling.

The third session of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Plenary is taking place from 12 to 17 January 2015, in Bonn, Germany.

For more information please contact:

  • Lynne Labanne, IUCN Global Species Programme, m +41 79 527 72 21, e
  • Olivia Nater, IUCN Global Species Programme Communications, tel. +41 22 999 0123, e

Related link:




» News Archives