18 July 2009

WHAT IS THE RED DATA LIST?

A comprehensive and authoritative account of the global, regional and national conservation status of plants and animals. The IUCN Red List of threatened species is compiled mainly through contributions from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, IUCN’s 7 000 member Species Survival Commission, partner organizations, and regional initiatives. Plants are listed under categories that indicate the varying degrees of their probability or risk of extinction in the wild. There are nine IUCN categories under which every species can be classified.

Extinct (EX) There is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died.
Extinct in the Wild (EW) The species is known only to survive in cultivation or as a naturalized (not original) population.
Critically Endangered (CR) The best available evidence indicates that the species is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
Endangered (EN) Evidence indicates that the species is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
Vulnerable (VU) Evidence indicates that the species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Near Threatened (NT) The species is very likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.
Least Concern (LC) The species does not qualify for any of the above categories now, but may do so in the future.
Data Deficient (DD) There is inadequate information to make an assessment of the species’ risk of extinction.
Not Evaluated (NE)

And the Orange List...
The latest IUCN criteria do not include rarity, as the objective of the IUCN system is to determine which species face human induced threats. However, for conservation purposes in South Africa, we are also interested in monitoring rare species. For this reason SANBI’s Threatened Species Programme (TSP) has developed the ‘Orange List’ system, which is used to define plants that are have restricted distribution ranges or population size, but that do not face any direct threats. There are three categories of rarity: Critically Rare for species only known from one location, Rare for species that are known from less than five locations, and Rare-Sparse for species occurring in five to twenty locations, but where all populations are small and fragmented.(See article ‘Endangered plants’ by Carly Cowell, Cherise Viljoen and Trevor Adams in the March 2007 issue of Veld & Flora, p. 18 and http://www.iucnredlist.org/.)
Erica hermani, known only from Hermanus and Vogelgat Nature Reserve and Critically Endangered due to coastal housing development. A new range extnesion was found by Ross Turner on a farm on the north slopes of the Babilonstoring mountain range. Read about it in the September 2009 issue of Veld & Flora.
Photo: Ross Turner.

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