The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is essentially a checklist of taxa that have undergone an extinction risk assessment using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. The majority of assessments appearing on the IUCN Red List are carried out by members of the IUCN SSC Specialist Groups, appointed Red List Authorities, or by participants of Global Biodiversity Assessment workshops. However, assessments can be done by anyone and submitted to IUCN for consideration.
The process for completing an assessment to getting it published on the IUCN Red List is outlined below:
Completing and Submitting a Red List Assessment
- The IUCN Red List includes only global-level assessments. Regional or national level assessments will not be considered unless these are also global assessments (e.g., a country endemic should have the same Red List status at both national and global levels), or these are regional assessments that have been carried out as part of an IUCN regional assessment project (see the Initiatives page for further information on these assessments). For more information about using the IUCN Categories and Criteria at regional levels, please see the Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional Levels: Version 3.0 (English, French, Spanish). Further information about compiling and publishing national Red Lists can also be found on the National Red Lists web site.
Taxonomic standards have been developed for taxa appearing on the IUCN Red List and should be consulted before carrying out an assessment.
- It is useful to begin an assessment by checking the current IUCN Red List to find out if the taxon has already been assessed and by whom. The names of people or groups responsible for each assessment appear on the Detailed Results pages for each taxon on the Red List web site.
- All assessments must be based on data currently available for the taxon across its entire global range. Assessors must take full account of past and present literature (published and grey) and other reliable sources of information relating to the taxon. For subspecies, variety or subpopulation assessments, a species-level assessment must also be carried out.
- Assessments must follow the current version of the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. This booklet provides the basic rules for an IUCN Red List assessment. Further guidance on applying the criteria is provided in the Guidelines for Using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (note that this document is updated on an annual basis). The IUCN Red List Unit can also be contacted for advice on applying the criteria (see contact information or use the 'feedback' form at the bottom of this page).
- All assessments must include standard documentation, as described in Annex 3 of the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (also see the document Documentation Standards and Consistency Checks for IUCN Red List Assessments and Species Accounts for detailed guidance on documenting Red List assessments). This includes completion of the standard Classification Schemes describing habitats, threats, etc. and the provision of a map showing the geographic distribution of the species.
- Submissions from within the IUCN SSC network (e.g., from Specialist Groups) should be submitted using the IUCN Species Information Service (SIS) unless agreed otherwise before submission.
- Submissions from outside the SSC network should preferably be in electronic format. A standard questionnaire has been produced to guide assessors through the documentation requirements. To receive this questionnaire, please contact us. It is not mandatory to use this form when submitting assessments. The questionnaire is very lengthy because of the inclusion of the complete set of Classification Schemes. Users need only fill in those parts relevant to their taxon and can ignore or even delete those parts of the Classification Schemes that do not apply. Other electronic formats (e.g., MS-Excel spreadsheet, MS-Access database, etc.) are possible, but should be discussed and the format agreed with the IUCN Red List Unit before submission.
- To help assessors and Red List Authorities conduct assessments, especially in cases where there is uncertainty concerning the data to be used, the Red List has approved the use of RAMAS® Red List, a software package developed by Applied Biomathematics, an ecological software company based in New York. This software applies the rules of the IUCN Red List Criteria to obtain an assessment, and also includes an algorithm for explicitly handling any data uncertainty (Akçakaya and Ferson 2001). If the software is used for any assessments the resulting RAMAS® data files must be submitted along with any assessment done in this way to the Red List Unit.
- All completed assessments should be submitted to the IUCN Red List Unit (see contact information or use the 'feedback' form at the bottom of this page).
- The IUCN Species Programme staff will acknowledge receipt of all submitted assessments.
Assessment Consistency Checks and Review
- All submitted assessments must be reviewed by at least two named people designated by an appropriate Red List Authority (RLA) focal point (see details under the Red List Overview page).
- If the assessment is submitted from an IUCN SSC Specialist Group or an RLA, this should be reviewed before being submitted to the Red List Unit.
- If the assessment is submitted from outside the SSC network, the IUCN Species Programme staff will send the assessment to the appropriate RLA. If there is no RLA for the species concerned, the IUCN Species Programme staff will arrange for the assessment to be reviewed by appropriate experts.
- Reviews are normally completed within three months of being referred to the RLA. However, the IUCN Species Programme staff will inform assessors of any delays to this process.
- All submitted assessments (both reviewed and un-reviewed) are checked by the IUCN Species Programme staff (and sometimes by the Standards and Petitions Sub-Committee of the IUCN SSC Steering Committee) for consistency in the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria, and the adequacy of all the supporting documentation.
- The IUCN Species Programme staff will notify assessors of the outcomes of all reviews (i.e., assessment acceptance or rejection), and of any issues highlighted through the consistency and documentation checks.
- Reviewed assessments that are accepted will appear in a future update of the IUCN Red List.
- Reviewed assessments that are rejected will be returned to assessors with an explanation of the reasons for the rejection. Rejected assessments can then be revised and/or corrected and resubmitted for further consideration.
Publication of the Assessment
Assessments can be submitted to IUCN at any time. However, the date of publication of an accepted assessment will depend on when the assessment was received and reviewed (see "Assessment Consistency Checks and Review" above). To allow sufficient time for IUCN to check submitted assessments, analyse the data, update the web site, and prepare press materials, the general timetable illustrated below is followed. Note that the time between the date final submissions are accepted and the date the next Red List is published will vary depending on available resources. For the exact timeline agreed for any specific update, please contact the IUCN Red List Unit.
- All final, reviewed assessments submitted to the Red List Unit will enter a submissions queue.
- Any assessments submitted after the "last submissions accepted" date will remain in the queue to be processed for publication in the next available update.
- The "SIS 'lockdown'" date refers to the date when all checked and accepted assessments in the Species Information Service (the data storage system for IUCN Red List assessments) are locked to prevent any further editing.
- Any unchecked assessments remaining in the submissions queue at "SIS lockdown" will be held in the queue to be processed for publication in the next available update.
- All assessments appearing on the IUCN Red List web site are open to challenge. A petitions process has been developed to handle disagreements with current listings appearing on the Red List.