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Red List Index

Indicator description

The Red List Index (RLI) shows trends in the extinction risk of sets of species. It requires data from repeated assessments of species using the Red List categories and criteria, which are far more commonly available than detailed reliable time-series of population abundance data. Because such data are generally available for entire suites of species (e.g. all regularly occurring species in a country for a particular taxonomic group) they produce less-biased indicators than those based on a sample selected better-studied species.

Related Aichi Targets

Primary target

12

Target 12:

By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.

Secondary targets

Target 4:

By 2020, at the latest, Governments, business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits.

Target 5:

By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.

Target 6:

By 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem based approaches, so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits.

Target 7:

By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity.

Target 8:

By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity.

Target 9:

By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.

Target 10:

By 2015, the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs, and other vulnerable ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification are minimized, so as to maintain their integrity and functioning.

Target 11:

By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

Target 14:

By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.

Primary target

12

Target 12:

By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.

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5
14
10
12
7
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11
9

Related SDGs

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GOAL 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Target 2.4| Relevant indicator

By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.

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GOAL 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Target 6.6| Relevant indicator

By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

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GOAL 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Target 11.4| Relevant indicator

Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

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GOAL 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Target 12.2| Relevant indicator

By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.

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GOAL 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Target 13.1.| Relevant indicator

Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

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GOAL 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Target 14.1| Relevant indicator

By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.

Target 14.2| Relevant indicator

By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans.

Target 14.3| Relevant indicator

Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels.

Target 14.4| Relevant indicator

By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.

Target 14.5| Relevant indicator

By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information.

Target 14.7| Relevant indicator

By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.

Target 14.c| Relevant indicator

Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want.

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GOAL 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Target 15.2| Relevant indicator

By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.

Target 15.4| Relevant indicator

By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development.

Target 15.5| Official indicator

Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.

Target 15.7| Relevant indicator

Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products.

Target 15.8| Relevant indicator

By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species.

Target 15.b| Relevant indicator

Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation.

Target 15.c| Relevant indicator

Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities.

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GOAL 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

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GOAL 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

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GOAL 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

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GOAL 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

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GOAL 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

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GOAL 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

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GOAL 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

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Other related MEAs and processes

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CITES

Target 1.6| Relevant indicator

Parties cooperate in managing shared wildlife resources.

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CMS

Target 5| Relevant indicator

Governments, key sectors and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption, keeping the impacts of natural resource use on migratory species well within safe ecological limits to promote the favourable conservation status of migratory species and maintain the quality, integrity, resilience, and connectivity of their habitats and migratory routes.

Target 6| Relevant indicator

Fisheries and hunting have no significant direct or indirect adverse impacts on migratory species, their habitats or their migration routes, and impacts of fisheries and hunting are within safe ecological limits.

Target 7| Relevant indicator

Multiple anthropogenic pressures have been brought to levels that are not detrimental to the conservation of migratory species or to the functioning, integrity, ecological connectivity and resilience of their habitats.

Target 8| Relevant indicator

The conservation status of threatened migratory species has considerably improved throughout their range.

Target 9| Relevant indicator

International action and cooperation between States for the conservation and effective management of migratory species fully reflects a migratory systems approach, in which all States sharing responsibility for the species concerned engage in such actions in a concerted way.

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IPBES Global Assessment Chapters

Chapter 2| Official indicator

Status and trends; indirect and direct drivers of change

Chapter 3| Official indicator

Progress towards meeting major international objectives related to biodiversity and ecosystem services

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IPBES Regional Assessment Chapters

Chapter 3| Official indicator

Status, trends and future dynamics of biodiversity and ecosystems underpinning nature’s benefits to people

Chapter 4| Official indicator

Direct and indirect drivers of change in the context of different perspectives of quality of life

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Ramsar

Target 3| Relevant indicator

The public and private sectors have increased their efforts to apply guidelines and good practices for the wise use of water and wetlands.

Target 9| Relevant indicator

The wise use of wetlands is strengthened through integrated resource management at the appropriate scale, inter alia, within a river basin or along a coastal zone.

Target 13| Relevant indicator

Enhanced sustainability of key sectors such as water, energy, mining, agriculture, tourism, urban development, infrastructure, industry, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries when they affect wetlands, contributing to biodiversity conservation and human livelihoods

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UNCCD

Expected impact 3.1| Relevant indicator

Sustainable land management and combating desertification/land degradation contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the mitigation of climate change.

Cites high resolution

CITES

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CMS

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IPBES Global Assessment Chapters

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IPBES Regional Assessment Chapters

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Ramsar

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UNCCD

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Themes

Bip species

Partners

Birdlife aug2013
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Key indicator facts

Indicator type

State

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Indicator type

State

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Last update

2016

Coverage

Global

Availability

Freely available

Indicator description

The Red List Index (RLI) shows trends in the extinction risk of sets of species. It requires data from repeated assessments of species using the Red List categories and criteria, which are far more commonly available than detailed reliable time-series of population abundance data. Because such data are generally available for entire suites of species (e.g. all regularly occurring species in a country for a particular taxonomic group) they produce less-biased indicators than those based on a sample selected better-studied species.

Contact point

Graphs / Diagrams

Rli 1

Figure 1: Red List Index for the world’s mammals (1996-2008), birds (1988-2012), amphibians (1980-2004), corals (1998-2008) and cycads (2003-2015), with an aggregated Red List Index shown in blue. Source: BirdLife International and IUCN (2016).

Current storyline

The Red List Index shows that all species groups with known trends are deteriorating in status, as more species move towards extinction than away from it. Cycads are most threatened group but corals are deteriorating in status fastest, owing to increased frequency of ‘bleaching events’ brought about by climate change. South-East Asia is the region in which mammals are most threatened while birds are most threatened in Oceania. The fungal disease chytridiomycosis is the major driver of declines in amphibians, while unsustainable exploitation and habitat loss are the major driver of cycad declines.

Baseline data-points are available for several other groups, such as reptiles, fishes, sharks, conifers, freshwater crabs and crayfish, dragonflies and various plant groups, several of which are based on a sampled approach given the large numbers of species in some of these groups. Among plants, gymnosperms are the most threatened group.

Underlying data come from the IUCN Red List, which is developed by IUCN and the Red List Partnership (Arizona State University, BirdLife International, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Conservation International, NatureServe, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Sapienza University of Rome, Texas A&M University, and The Zoological Society of London.

Sampled Red List assessments for plants, which will in due course feed into the RLI, are coordinated by Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

Individual logos shown are those for Red List Partners who are also BIP partners.

Data and methodology

Coverage:

Global time series (1980 onwards, varying by taxonomic group. Aggregate index from 1993).

Regional/ National time series (time periods variable).

Global baseline (Multiple taxonomic groups have been comprehensively assessed).

Regional/National baseline (National RLIs based on assessments of extinction risk are available for a number of taxa and countries –see http://www.iucnredlist.org/about/publication/red-list-index, while many other countries have completed national red lists but not yet repeated these to produce an RLI: see www.nationalredlist.org. National RLIs for all countries, disaggregated from the global RLI and weighted by the proportion of each species’ distribution occurring within the country, are available in the Country Profiles at https://www.ibat-alliance.org/ibat-conservation/login).

Scale: Aggregated from species level data which may be collected nationally, regionally and/or globally.

Time series available: 1980 –2016.

Next planned update: Updates are released annually.

Possible disaggregations: By region, country, taxonomic group, threatening process (e.g. pollution, invasive alien species etc), ecosystem service (e.g. RLI for pollinators) etc.

Methodology: The RLI was initially designed and tested using data on all bird species (Butchart el al 2004) and then extended to amphibians (Butchart et al 2005). The methodology was revised and improved in 2007 (Butchart et al 2007), with methods for aggregating across taxonomic groups and for calculating confidence intervals published in 2010 (Butchart et al 2010). RLIs for additional groups have been added subsequently.

RLIs have been published showing the negative impacts of invasive species (McGeoch et al 2010) and trade (Butchart 2008), and the positive impacts of conservation action (Hoffmann et al 2010) and protected areas (Butchart et al 2012). An RLI to show the impact of a single conservation institution was published by Young et al (2014). The spatial distribution of the RLI was mapped by Rodrigues et al (2014). An RLI for pollinators was published by Regan et al (2015).

For poorly known, species-rich groups (e.g. insects, fungi, plants, etc), a sampled approach to Red Listing has been developed (Baillie et al 2008; see also http://www.kew.org/science-research-data/directory/projects/SampledRedListIndexP.htm). Once the sample of species in these groups are reassessed, RLIs for will be calculated.

National use of indicator

National RLIs can be calculated either by disaggregating the global indices, or by repeatedly assessing extinction risk at the national scale (Bubb et al 2009). National indices based on national assessments of extinction risk are available for an increasing number of taxa and countries (see http://www.iucnredlist.org/about/publication/red-list-index) while many other countries have completed national red lists (see www.nationalredlist.org), but not yet repeated these to produce an RLI. Such national RLIs may be more sensitive than globally downscaled RLIs. However, they come with the disadvantage that their trends may be driven by changes in status of species with a trivial proportion of their global population within a given country (Rodrigues et al. 2014). This is because national RLIs do not take into account the fact that different countries have different levels of global responsibility towards the conservation of the species they harbour. For example, the return of the Osprey Pandion haliaetus to Denmark as a breeding species contributed to this country’s improving national RLI, but was inconsequential to the global RLI, because Denmark holds a tiny fraction of this widespread species’ population. In contrast, an improvement in the conservation status of Albert’s Lyrebird Menura alberti in Australia (from Vulnerable to Near Threatened) is globally significant, because this species is a national endemic. Thus, a country can have an improving national index while making a negative contribution to the global RLI, if improvements concern mainly species that are marginally represented within the country and deteriorations species for which the country is highly responsible (Rodrigues et al. 2014). To overcome this issue, national RLIs (disaggregated from the global RLI for all birds, mammals, amphibians, cycads and corals) weighted by the proportion of each species’ global distribution within the country have been calculated for all countries worldwide (UNSD 2016; see the Country Profiles at https://www.ibat-alliance.org/ibat-conservation/login).

More information about producing national RLIs can be found in the publication, IUCN Red List Index – Guidance for National and Regional Use available from: http://intranet.iucn.org/webfiles/doc/SpeciesProg/RLI_Guidelines_Final_4march09.pdf.

Further resources

Publications and reports

Rödlistade arter i Sverige 2015. The 2015 red list of Swedish species (ArtDatabanken, 2015).

Exploitation indices: developing global and national metrics of wildlife use and trade IN: Biodiversity monitoring and conservation: bridging the gaps between global commitment and local action (Almond 2013).

Indices of invasion: how to monitor invasive species. Pp. 138-158 in Biodiversity monitoring and conservation: bridging the gaps between global commitment and local action (Genovesi et al. 2013).

Developing and implementing National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans: How to set, meet and track the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (BirdLife International 2012).

Application of the Red-List Index at a national level for multiple species groups (Juslén et al. 2013).

Protecting important sites for biodiversity contributes to meeting global conservation targets (Butchart et al. 2012).

Global patterns and drivers of avian extinctions at the species and subspecies level (Szabo et al. 2012).

Adapting global biodiversity indicators to the national scale: a Red List Index for Australian birds (Szabo et al. 2012).

Plants under pressure-a global assessment. IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants (RBG 2012).

State of Paraguay’s Birds (López 2011).

Estado de las Aves del Paraguay (López 2011).

A red list index for breeding birds in Denmark in the period 1991–2009 (Pihl and Flensted 2011).

Rödlistade arter i Sverige 2010. The 2010 red list of Swedish species (Gärdenfors 2010).

Global indicators of biological invasion: species numbers, biodiversity impact and policy responses (McGeoch et al. 2010).

Global Biodiversity: Indicators of Recent Declines (Butchart et al. 2010).

The impact and shortfall of conservation on the status of the world’s vertebrates (Hoffmann et al. 2010).

IUCN Red List Index: Guidance for national and regional use (Bubb et al. 2009).

Wildlife in a changing world - An analysis of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (IUCN 2009).

Toward monitoring global biodiversity (Baillie et al. 2008).

Red List Indices to measure the sustainability of species use and impacts of invasive alien species (Butchart 2008).

Improvements to the Red List Index (Butchart et al. 2007).

IUCN Red List Index Guidelines for the Sampled Approach (ZSL 2007).

Trend in the Status of Breeding Bird Fauna in British Columbia, Canada, Based on the IUCN Red List Index Method (Quayle et al. 2007).

Biodiversity indicators based on trends in conservation status: strengths of the IUCN Red List Index (Butchart et al. 2006).

The value of the IUCN Red List for conservation (Rodrigues et al. 2006).

Using Red List Indices to measure progress towards the 2010 target and beyond (Butchart et al. 2005).

Measuring global trends in the status of biodiversity: Red List Indices for birds (Butchart et al. 2004).

Websites

IUCN Red List Index