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Boosting action for biodiversity in 2012

Jane Smart, Director of IUCN's Biodiversity Conservation Group explains what needs to be done in 2012 to make sure that conservation work scales up and leads to real impacts on the ground.

January 2012

Island Invasives: Eradication and Management. Proceedings of the International Conference on Island Invasives.

Edited by C. R. Veitch, M. N. Clout, and D. R. Towns.

This 542 page volume stems from a conference held in Auckland in 2010 and attended by 240 delegates from at least 20 countries. The conference content covered any aspect of invasive species relating to natural insular ecosystems. This diverse array of subject matter is divided into four sections in the book. The first section deals with overviews and planned or attempted eradications. The second section introduces new technologies and approaches to eradications, such as dealing with multiple invasive species. Papers in the third section concentrate on the results and outcomes of eradications, especially responses by native species. The final section covers the roles and approaches that involve people, policy and invasion prevention (biosecurity).

The major purposes of holding the conference, and publishing these 95 peer-reviewed papers, are to encourage and assist the management of invasive species, particularly on islands. Managers, and potential managers, of invasive species will all find information on this book which will assist their endeavours to conserve natural ecosystems.

This book is available for purchase from Manaaki Whenua Press for the special price of NZ$88 up to the end of December. After that the price returns to NZ$110.00.

You can read or print any of the papers via the links on the Publications page

12 December 2011

European Environment: alarming decline in plants, molluscs and freshwater fish

Europe's natural heritage is showing an alarming decline, according to new research published today. The European Red List, a part of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, assessed a considerable portion of Europe’s native fauna and flora, finding that a large proportion of molluscs, freshwater fish and vascular plants now fall into a threatened category.

The assessment of some 6,000 species reveals that 44% of all freshwater molluscs, 37% of freshwater fish, 23% of amphibians, 20% of a selection of terrestrial molluscs, 19% of reptiles, 15% of mammals and of dragonflies, 13% of birds, 11% of a selection of saproxylic beetles, 9% of butterflies and 467 species of vascular plant species are now under threat...

Freshwater fish are also highly threatened, especially as a result of pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and the introduction of alien species. Sturgeons are particularly at risk, with all but one of the eight European species now Critically Endangered..

But there is some positive news and the assessment highlights the success of well-designed conservation measures. Many species protected under the EU Habitats Directive and included in the Natura 2000 network of protected areas now have an improved chance of survival. Centranthus trinervis, a plant endemic to Corsica, has been downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered due to strict protection of its single known site. Additionally, the control of invasive species such as plants, goats and rats for example has benefited the majority of threatened land snails in Madeira over the past 10 years...


22 November 2011

Action Plan for information on invasive alien species

Implementation ‘roadmap’ commits key partners to harmonize data needed to tackle threat to biodiversity from invasives

Global Biodiversity Information Facility Press release

Government experts meeting under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have endorsed a wide-ranging programme to strengthen information available to decision-makers on the spread of invasive alien species (IAS).

The plan, presented to the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) in Montreal, arose from a workshop held at the GBIF Secretariat in Copenhagen in September, where experts agreed on an unprecedented level of collaboration on the means to share global IAS data.

The Joint Work Programme (JWP, see document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/15/INF/14, available at http://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=sbstta-15) unites eight information service providers behind nearly 50 action points aimed at combining and harmonizing data on IAS from a wide range of different databases and networks.

The aim is to contribute towards Target 9 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets agreed in Japan last year, which commits parties to the CBD to eradicate priority invasive alien species by 2020, and control pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment...


16 November 2011

As a leading provider of global invasive alien species data and information the IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group is very pleased with this implementation 'roadmap' and will play a key role in the implementation of the nearly 50 action points aimed at combining and harmonizing data on invasive alien species from a wide range of different databases and networks. This will enable our global stakeholders to have access to current science, innovation, data and information that underpins and informs management action including prevention of spread, eradication and control.

Related links:

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)

CABI Invasive Species Compendium (CAB ISC)


Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe (DAISIE)

European Network on Invasive Alien Species (NOBANIS)

Global Invasive Species Information Network (GISIN)

Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network Invasives Information Network (IABIN)

IUCN ISSG and the CBD to cooperate to promote the achievement of Aichi Target 9 on invasive species.

Aliens Newsletter

A supplementary agreement for the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 regarding invasive species has been signed by Jane Smart, Global Director, Biodiversity Conservation Group, of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)...

“Invasive alien species are a global issue; however, existing capacity at the local level is not adequate enough to stop it,” says Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD Executive Secretary. “Both IUCN and the CBD are strongly committed to assist Parties in gaining the tools and training to halt biological invasions.”

To support the effort against invasive species, IUCN and the CBD have recognized that scientific data and cooperation is needed for the early detection and rapid response to invasive species. Therefore the IUCN Species Survival Committee Invasive Species Specialist Group and IUCN Invasive Species Initiative have agreed to work together with the Secretariat of the CBD to promote the achievement of Target 9 and support initiatives concerning invasive species...


Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Communique

8 November 2011

Related link: Aichi Targets

New national Red List highlights species at risk of extinction

Six of Ireland’s 15 native fish species (40%) and one of its three amphibians (33%) have been classified as Threatened on the recently published Red List of Irish Amphibians, Reptiles and Freshwater Fish...

Of Ireland’s 15 native fish species, the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), was listed as Critically Endangered and five more were found to be Vulnerable; one was assessed as Near Threatened. One of the five native amphibians and reptiles assessed, the Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita), was found to be Endangered, while the remaining four are Least Concern.

For the first time, an objective assessment of the status of non-native fish that have become naturalised in Ireland has been completed. Two of these established non-native fish were identified as invasive species requiring management...

Water pollution, the spread of invasive species, overfishing, unsympathetic river management and climate change are among a number of widespread threats affecting Irish species. Barriers to upstream migration are of particular importance to lampreys and shads, while habitat loss is the main concern for the Natterjack Toad.


11 October 2011

Collateral damage: Western Ghats freshwater species in peril

Freshwater species in the Western Ghats, India, are being sacrificed as collateral damage in the race for rapid economic development. For the first time, comprehensive data are available on the conservation status and distribution of all freshwater fishes, molluscs, dragonflies, damselflies and aquatic plants across peninsular India. Water pollution from agricultural and urban sources, overharvesting and invasive species are the major threats that have led to 16% of freshwater species in the region for which we have sufficient data being classified as threatened with extinction on The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM.


22 September 2011

Communique from the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity

Struggle against invasive species remains important goal for global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity supports recent statement by conservation organizations

Montreal, 1 August 2011 – The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity has expressed support for a recent call from conservation organizations for continued action against invasive species. On 22 July, the magazine Science published a letter from senior leaders of the world most authoritative conservation organizations entitled “Invasives: A Major Conservation Threat”. The purpose of the letter was to respond to recent positions that have argued against the struggle against invasive species...

“Invasive species are a subtle threat to the natural balance of species and ecosystems, but can suddenly occur in explosive outbreaks. For this reason, the global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 includes a specific target on this issue” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity. He added that: “We warmly welcome the letter published in Science – signed by an impressive list of leaders of conservation organizations – because it confirms the commitment of the conservation community to address this threat. Preventing and mitigating the negative effects of invasions is indeed a huge challenge, and the cooperation of the NGOs is of crucial importance.”


28 July 2011

A unique international partnership to restore islands and crucial seabird habitats

The MV Aquila, will complete a 27,000km voyage of conservation. The Aquila will sail to Palmyra Atoll (USA), the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA, Kiribati) and then Henderson Island (UK), restoring crucial seabird habitats at every stop by removing the introduced rats that have proved so devastating.

Palmyra is one of the Northern Line Islands. The Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA) is a 408,250 sq.km expanse of marine and terrestrial habitats in the Southern Pacific Ocean. This is the first site in Kiribati to be inscribed on the World Heritage List. Henderson Island is part of the Pitcairn Island group (UK overseas territory in the south Pacific), it was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1988


1 August 2011

Invasives: A Major Conservation Threat

July 22 2011, Vol 333 SCIENCE

A flurry of recent articles call upon the conservation community to embrace invasive species. Davis and coauthors propose downsizing the struggle against invasives (1). In the News Focus story “Embracing invasives” (18 March, p. 1383), G. Vince suggests that the Galápagos “embrace the aliens.” In The New York Times (2), H. Raffles accused environmentalists, conservationists, and gardeners targeting invasive species of being unreasoningly dogmatic and xenophobic.

These articles imply that the concern with invasive species derives from the unreasonable desire to maintain pristine ecosystems and exclude all alien species. In fact, conservationists recognize that species distributions are constantly changing, that community structure is dynamic, that alien species enter and are introduced into natural communities, and that modified (and even degraded) ecosystems have conservation value. However, we also recognize an important distinction between alien species in general— which are introduced outside their natural range by humans, but which in many cases are harmless- and invasive species, which by definition not only are introduced outside their range but also cause substantial harm to biodiversity and human livelihood. Invasive species, not alien species, are indeed a major cause of biodiversity loss, implicated in the majority of extinctions (3), and this trend continues. Thus, they deserve aggressive intervention...


22 July 2011

Baiting complete for Macquarie Island Pest Eradication

The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, Brian Wightman, today welcomed news baiting has been completed on Macquarie Island, signalling a major step forward in the eradication of three pest species and the eventual restoration of the island’s significant natural values.

Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service staff and contractors have now completed two whole-of-island bait drops, with only small areas such as offshore rock-stacks left to complete. Mr Wightman said the project to eradicate the large numbers of rabbits, ship rats and house mice from the 12,800 hectare island was the largest yet attempted in the world for three pest species.

Macquarie Island is a nature reserve and World Heritage Area located 1500 kilometres south-east of Tasmania.


30 June 2011

We need to strengthen, not weaken, the struggle against harmful invasive species

An ISSG response to recent articles calling us to re-think the struggle against biological invasions

Read more>>

15 June 2011

A grain of hope in the desert: Updates of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

The Arabian Oryx, a species of antelope found only on the Arabian Peninsula, is locally known as Al Maha. It is believed the last wild individual was shot in 1972. This year, thanks to successful captive breeding and re-introduction efforts, the oryx has finally qualified for a move from the Endangered category to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List—the first time that a species that was once Extinct in the Wild has improved by three categories...

In the case of New Caledonia’s endemic reptiles, which have been assessed for the first time, two thirds (67%) of species within this group for which we have sufficient data are at risk of extinction. Many of these reptiles are threatened by ongoing habitat loss and fragmentation as New Caledonia’s nickel mining industry continues to expand. This is compounded by the effects of introduced species; for example, deer and pigs damage remaining available habitat, and fire ants, which are invasive alien species, decimate lizard populations, leading to localized extinctions...


16 June 2011

The Fight Against Invasives

The words ‘invasive aliens’ tend to conjure up images of little green men flying in from outer space and waging war against Earth. Granted, if this were to occur it would be a rather frightening experience, but the fact is we have a far more serious and immediate issue to tackle: the invasive aliens that are already here.

Biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate, with a whole host of factors contributing to the disastrous declines. Habitat destruction is well-documented as being one of the leading causes of species extinctions, but invasive alien species are also to blame...


8 June 2011

African Freshwaters Under Threat

Decision makers across Africa are now able to benefit from an online interactive map, released by IUCN, for each of the 7,079 river and lake sub-catchments across mainland Africa that reveals information on the distribution, conservation and ecological needs of 4,989 freshwater species, of which 21% are already threatened. This tool and the accompanying IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ report ‘The Diversity of Life in African Freshwaters: Underwater, Under Threat’ provide vital information to help plan development in ways that minimize or avoid impacts to freshwater species.

Major threats to freshwater ecosystems in Africa are identified as loss and degradation of habitat associated with deforestation, agriculture and infrastructure development, unsustainable levels of water extraction, water pollution from domestic industrial and agricultural sources, the introduction of alien invasive species, sedimentation, mining and subsistence use and trade. Read more from the report ‘The Diversity of Life in African Freshwaters: Underwater, Under Threat’ .


9 June 2011

New international report to secure natural riches of North Africa and the Middle East

An international conservation project has brought together botanists and scientists from the Middle East and North Africa - Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria and Tunisia - in an unprecedented bid to secure the future of the region’s wildlife. A new report published today by IUCN, Plantlife and WWF - Important Plant Areas of the south and east Mediterranean region: Priority sites for conservation - shows that there are more than 200 internationally significant areas for wild plants in the region, rivalling those found elsewhere in Europe and Asia for species richness, and supporting an extraordinary range of wildlife. In many of these countries, these species-rich landscapes also provide vital resources for local livelihoods.

A total of 207 Important Plant Areas (IPAs) are listed in the report for the first time, including 33 in Syria, 20 in Lebanon, 20 in Egypt, 21 in Algeria, 13 in Tunisia and five in Libya, with teams from 11 countries around the south and east Mediterranean involved in the partnership project, meeting to discuss results and work together to carry out a rapid assessment of wild plants and wildlife-rich areas across the region.

The main threats to the region’s IPAs include overgrazing (67% of sites are affected), deforestation, tourist development, intensive arable farming and unsustainable collection of plants for medicine and culinary uses.

Invasive species are among the top 10 threats affecting 147 Important Plant Areas of the south and east Mediterranean region

The project - led by IUCN, Plantlife and WWF and funded by the French Development Agency through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund - aims to take the first steps to conserving this wealth of natural riches.


1 June 2011

International Day for Biodiversity 2011: Biodiversity and Forests

International Day for Biodiversity 2011: Biodiversity and Forests

On the occasion of the 2011 International Year of Forests, the theme for International Day for Biodiversity in 2011 has been selected to be "Biodiversity and Forests." The global launch of the UN Decade on Biodiversity is also scheduled to take place on this date, in Tokyo, Japan. Date: 22 May 2011 Location: Worldwide


20 May 2011

Laying the foundation for an IUCN Red List of Ecosystems

Momentum is gathering behind the case for a Red List of Ecosystems which, modeled on the influential IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, is hoped will generate better environmental management.

Experts gathered at the Smithsonian Institution recently to develop the scientific basis for the initiative. Examples from Australia, South Africa, the United States and Venezuela of how ecosystems could be listed were discussed and the proposed criteria refined. How to make sure the ecosystems Red List is compatible with the Red List of Threatened Species was a key focus of the discussion.

“There is a great potential to link the Red List of Ecosystems with the Millennium Assessment discussion on ecosystem services—the benefits we get from ecosystems. This in turn provides a powerful link into how ecosystems do (or do not) benefit the livelihoods of rural people, and so create greater responsibility for sustainable ecosystem management,” says Edmund Barrow, Acting Head of IUCN’s Ecosystem Management Programme.

The Red List of Ecosystems work will help build strong links between ecosystems, livelihoods, health and well-being in a way that can be used to guide and influence conservation and national development agendas, reflecting the true value of ecosystem goods and services. Next steps include publishing papers in key scientific journals and producing an IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories, Criteria and Guidebook in English, Spanish and French.... ...


13 May 2011

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: 40 years of biodiversity conservation and wise use

Wetlands – hotspots of biodiversity

Many wetlands are rich in biodiversity, and many species of plants and animals are wetland-dependent – they cannot survive without wetlands. Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse wetlands, often called the ‘rainforests of the sea’. Although freshwater wetlands cover far less area than the oceans, they support 30% of all known fish species. It is this biodiversity that supports the many ecosystem services provided by wetlands. Yet wetland species are under threat, often more so than their terrestrial counterparts, through habitat change (such as drainage and conversion) and pollution as well as overexploitation, invasive alien species, and climate change. ...


2 May 2011

IUCN Conservation Heroes - Naresh Subedi, Nepal -Asian Rhino Specialist Group

...Naresh is currently involved in carrying out a rhino census in the Chitwan National Park, which has the second largest population of greater one-horned rhino in the world. He recently fitted radio collars on eight rhinos living in the park and now conducts regular patrols to monitor their movements. This often means spending the whole night in the park, which is also home to tigers, elephants and gharials.

The main purpose of this work is to study the impact that Mikania micrantha, a major invasive species in Nepal, has on rhinos. Mikania micrantha grows on plants that make up the diet of rhinos, blocking the sunlight that those plants need to survive...


2 May 2011

Invasive species experts call for action

Threats posed by invasive species and ways to monitor and control them will be discussed at a meeting in the Republic of Burundi tomorrow, with special focus on invasive species that are spreading in the basin of one of African Great Lakes, Lake Tanganyika…

..Although it is not too late to manage invasive species in the Lake Tanganyika basin, action will need to be taken now to prevent them from spreading and causing further damage to ecosystems and local people. “In the near future, states will need to improve and expand on a strategy that they have enacted in recent years,” says Dr. Geoffrey Howard, expert on invasive species in Africa, and member of the IUCN Invasive Species Initiative. “The emphasis should be on monitoring as well as management of invasive species – including the developing structure of the monitoring process.” Experts gathered at the meeting will discuss biological control as one of the possible ways to manage invasive species. They will also look into ways to raise awareness about invasive species and to enhance regional cooperation, which can play an important role in monitoring and controlling them.


30 March 2011

South Georgia's planned total eradication of rats

South Georgia's planned total eradication of rats from the island -the Habitat Restoration Project has begun with the entire first drop completed on the Thatcher Peninsula.

You can read more on the project from the South Georgia Heritage Trust website

and follow the progress of the project on Facebook

14 March 2011

2011 is the International Year of Forests

International Year of Forests 2011

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.

As a member of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, IUCN will play a key role in increasing public awareness of the centrality of the world’s forests to human and natural well-being. Over the course of the year, IUCN will be highlighting new findings from its innovative Livelihoods and Landscapes Strategy, announcing bold new initiatives in its forest landscape restoration work and building upon recent successes of the International 2010 REDD-plus (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest degradation) agenda REDD is an approach to achieving reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions that is currently under negotiation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). REDD-plus includes: Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

The spread of invasive species can impact biomass, biodiversity and forest health reducing the integrity of the ecosystem and ecosystem services.

ISSG will celebrate the International Year of Forests by focussing on raising awareness and disseminating information on the impacts of invasive species- forests pests and diseases. We will include more new profiles on forest pests and diseases on the Global Invasive Species Database and update information on profiles that are online. The Species of the Week button will feature forest pests and diseases.


10 January 2011

Aliens: The Invasive Species Bulletin

Issue 30 of Aliens: The Invasive Species Bulletin, Newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group has just been published.

Aliens Newsletter

Issue 30 includes an article by Chris Feare on the eradication of invasive birds on islands of the world. The issue also includes an interview to Angelo Salsi, head of the LIFE program of the European Union, on the application of this funding tool for supporting projects targeting invasive species in Europe, with an example on raccoon dog management in Scandinavia. An article reports on the lessons learnt so far in the struggle against Chytridiomycosis, and discusses new mitigation approaches to this deadly disease. Last but not least, an article reports on recent findings on invasive alien species in China, where a network of 50 leading scientists from 10 Chinese research institutions has reviewed all existing information on biological invasions in the country, collecting information on about 520 alien species recorded in agricultural, forestry and aquatic ecosystems of China.

Noxious weed threatens the biggest wildlife migration on the planet

The Serengeti - Masai Mara ecosystem in Africa, which hosts the largest wildlife migration known to man, is under attack from a noxious weed from Central America, commonly known as feverfew (Parthenium hysterophorus). If left unchecked it could threaten the continued migration of millions of animals across the plains every year, including 1.5 million wildebeest, 500,000 Thomson’s gazelle and 200,000 zebra.

The Serengeti - Mara ecosystem hosts approximately 70 large mammal species and some 500 different bird species in highly diverse habitats ranging from riverine forests, swamps, grasslands and woodlands. Researchers from CABI Africa and IUCN, based in Nairobi, Kenya, found the weed, parthenium, during a recent survey, growing along parts of the Mara River and along some dirt tracks in the Masai-Mara National Reserve.


24 November 2010

CBD CoP10 Nagoya
News Highlight on Invasive Alien Species

An Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) was created to further explore issues on invasive alien species, which IUCN is a part of. The mandate of the AHTEG is “to suggest ways and means, including, inter alia, providing scientific and technical information, advice and guidance, on the possible development of standards by appropriate bodies that can be used at an international level to avoid spread of invasive alien species that current international standards do not cover, to address the identified gaps and to prevent the impacts and minimize the risks associated with the introduction of invasive alien species as pets, aquarium and terrarium species, as live bait and live food with the present terms of reference”.

Final document>>

Nature’s Backbone at Risk

IUCN- Press Release

The most comprehensive assessment of the world’s vertebrates confirms an extinction crisis with one-fifth of species threatened. However, the situation would be worse were it not for current global conservation efforts, according to a study launched today at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD, in Nagoya, Japan.

The study, to be published in the international journal Science, used data for 25,000 species from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, to investigate the status of the world’s vertebrates (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fishes) and how this status has changed over time. The results show that, on average, 50 species of mammal, bird and amphibian move closer to extinction each year due to the impacts of agricultural expansion, logging, over-exploitation and invasive alien species.

“The ‘backbone’ of biodiversity is being eroded,” says the eminent American ecologist and writer Professor Edward O. Wilson, at Harvard University. “One small step up the Red List is one giant leap forward towards extinction. This is just a small window on the global losses currently taking place.”


27 October 2010

Nature's sting: The real cost of damaging Planet Earth

By Richard Anderson Business reporter, BBC News

...A recent study for the United Nations Environment Programme, entitled The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb), put the damage done to the natural world by human activity in 2008 at between $2tn (£1.3tn) and $4.5tn...

Drivers of biodiversity loss

  • Land use change - for example cutting down forests that provide essential water regulation, flood protection and carbon storage, to make way for agriculture
  • Over exploitation - for example over-fishing or intensive farming that leads to soil degradation
  • Invasive species - for example the introduction of non-indigenous species that crowd out endemic insect populations
  • Climate change - for example rising temperatures that cause more extreme weather conditions


October 14th, 2010

New study shows over one fifth of the world’s plants are under threat of extinction

A global analysis of extinction risk for the world's plants, conducted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew together with the Natural History Museum, London and IUCN, has revealed that the world’s plants are as threatened as mammals, with one in five of the world’s plant species threatened with extinction.

Plants at Risk

The study revealed

  • About one third of the species (33%) in our sample are insufficiently known to carry out an assessment. This demonstrates the scale of the task facing botanists – many plants are so poorly known that we still don't know if they are endangered or not.
  • Of almost 4,000 species that have been carefully assessed, over one fifth (22%) are classed as Threatened.
  • Plants are more threatened than birds, as threatened as mammals and less threatened than amphibians or corals.
  • Gymnosperms (the plant group including conifers and cycads) are the most endangered group.
  • The most threatened habitat is tropical rain forest. The current rate of loss of tropical forest accounts for 20% of global carbon emissions.
  • Most threatened species are found in the tropics.
  • The most threatening process is man-induced habitat loss, mostly the conversion of natural habitats for agriculture or livestock use.


September 29th, 2010

Urgent call on EU to stop billion-euro 'alien invasion'

Leading experts on invasive species are demanding Europe-wide legislation be put in place by next year to tackle the threat to native wildlife. The researchers want urgent action from the EU to protect Europe's indigenous species from these "alien invaders"...

Piero Genovesi is chair of the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG), a global network of experts on invasive species. He told BBC News that the figure of 12 billion Euros represents a significant underestimate of the impact of alien species.

"For many species we have no idea what damage they cause or their economic impact. This is just a fraction of the actual cost," he told BBC News. And he added that this estimate does not include any assesment of the economic value of lost biodiversity caused by non-native species...
By Pamela Rutherford Reporter, BBC News


September 17th, 2010

See the story of seabird islands, their importance, and the invaders that threaten them

Shot over a period of three years (with much of the footage captured by SEAPRE scientists in the field), ISLAND INVADERS describes

  • The importance of seabird islands
  • The impacts of predators on seabirds and their islands
  • Predator eradication
  • Island recolonization and resetoration
  • The importance of community involvement to seabird island conservation
Produced by the independent production company Scientific Outreach Media for the SEAPRE Research Coordination Network with support from the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

New natural jewels on the World Heritage crown

Following IUCN’s recommendations, the landscapes of France’s La Reunion Island, Russia’s Siberian Putorana Plateau and the Phoenix Islands Protected Areas of Kiribati have been added to the List of Natural World Heritage sites by UNESCO. The Committee also decided to add Danxia (China) to the List.

“La Reunion contains an impressive mosaic of dramatic landscapes and very valuable ecosystems and also serves as a last refuge for the many threatened and endangered species on the entire Mascarene Archipelago,” says Tim Badman, Head of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “Controlling alien invasive species will be an ongoing challenge in the management of this property."


August 4th, 2010

Hawai’i and Sri Lanka added to the World Heritage List

The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka and Papahanaumokuakea in Hawai’i were added to the list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, currently meeting in Brasilia. The Committee continues its consideration of natural sites for inscription.


July 31st, 2010

World Heritage in Danger: two natural sites listed

Following the recommendations of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), important rainforest areas in Madagascar and the Everglades National Park (USA) have been added to the List of World Heritage in Danger at the World Heritage annual meeting, currently taking place in Brasilia.

The Everglades National Park, a sanctuary for birds and reptiles and home to 20 rare, endangered and threatened species, has been added to the Danger List upon request by the USA. It had previously been on this List from 1993 until 2007 because of the large amount of water diverted from the Park to nearby cities, which dried out the wetland habitats and caused a 90 percent drop in the population of wetland birds.

The World Heritage Committee decided to remove the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) from the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, despite IUCN´s recommendation to the contrary.


June 30th, 2010

World Heritage Committee’s annual meeting in Brasilia

Representatives from amongst the 186 states that are signatories to the World Heritage Convention will meet at the World Heritage Committee’s annual meeting in Brasilia from 25 July to 3 August.

The first world heritage site, the Galapagos Islands (Islands of the Tortoises) of Ecuador consists of an archipelago of 19 volcanic islands in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, 973 km off the Pacific coast of South America.
The site's natural resources are increasingly threatened. Introduced plants and animals, such as feral goats, cats, and cattle, brought accidentally or willingly to the islands by humans, represent the main threat to Galápagos. Introduced plants have invaded large areas and eliminated endemic species in the humid zones of San Cristobal, Floreana, Isabela and Santa Cruz.


July 25th, 2010

Trial Phase of Habitat Restoration Project to go ahead in February 2011

The South Georgia Habitat Restoration Project is now formally underway! Following public consultation on our plans, the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) gave consent for the Project to start fieldwork next season -February/March 2011 - and the Board of the SG Heritage Trust immediately instructed the Project Director to commence the operation.
This huge Project will be undertaken in two Phases over a period of five seasons. The task is to eradicate invasive rodents - the rats and mice which have devastated the terrestrial ecology and seabird populations of South Georgia over two centuries - from the whole of South Georgia.


July 7th, 2010

Non-native mammals poised to fuel bird extinction crisis

Put together, the UK’s overseas territories are fifth in the world league table of bird extinctions, with at least ten species from the territories going to oblivion since 1500AD, partially or wholly because of the impact of non-native mammals, such as rats, feral cats, mice and pigs…
Across the territories, 33 species of bird are facing extinction on the UK overseas territories and a new report shows that many of these are under threat because of the continued impact of introduced mammals. The report, published in the journal Ibis, shows that one third of the species facing extinction could be helped by the removal of non-native mammals from just seven island groups in the Atlantic, Caribbean and the Pacific.


July 7th, 2010

Go-ahead for Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

After a week of intense negotiations, governments have agreed to establish a new mechanism, which will strengthen the dialogue between the scientific community and policymakers on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The so-called 'IPBES' - the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services - will be a leading body in making scientifically sound and relevant information available to support more informed decisions on how biodiversity and ecosystem services are conserved and used around the world.


June 11th 2010

Just published

Aliens Newsletter

Aliens: The Invasive Species Bulletin

Newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group
June 1st 2010

Towards an early warning and information system for invasive alien species (IAS) threatening biodiversity in Europe

The European Environmental Agency (EEA) has published an assessment of the feasibility to establish a European Early Warning and Information System on biological invasions.
This technical report has been prepared by a team of experts led by the Institute for Environmental Research and Protection (Italy) through a collaboration with ISSG. It contributes to the ongoing development of a EU Strategy on invasive alien species, that the European Commission committed to complete in 2011.


Wetland aliens cause bird extinction

BirdLife International announces today, in an update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ for birds, the extinction of Alaotra Grebe Tachybaptus rufolavatus.


May 26th 2010

International Year of Biodiversity

Celebrating Biodiversity

The United Nations has declared 2010 as the ‘International Year of Biodiversity’. For the next 12 months we will be celebrating biological diversity – the variety of life on earth – and boosting awareness of how important it is for our lives..


A Message from the Chair

IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group..


Click here to view Wildlife in a Changing World PDF

Analysis of the 2008 Red List

A detailed analysis of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, "Wildlife in a Changing World – an analysis of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ has just been published.

The IUCN analysis is published every four years. The report analyses 44,838 species on the IUCN Red List and presents results by groups of species, geographical regions, and different habitats, such as marine, freshwater and terrestrial.

Results from the report shows nearly one third of amphibians, more than one in eight birds and nearly a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction. Overall, a minimum of 16,928 species are threatened with extinction.

Summary of the 2008 IUCN Red List update

There are 869 recorded extinctions, with 804 species listed as Extinct and 65 listed as Extinct in the Wild:

  • The number of extinctions increases to 1,159 if the 290 Critically Endangered species tagged as ‘Possibly Extinct’ are included;
  • 16,928 species are threatened with extinction (3,246 are Critically Endangered, 4,770 are Endangered and 8,912 are Vulnerable);
  • 3,796 species are listed as Near Threatened
  • 5,570 species have insufficient information to determine their threat status and are listed as Data Deficient;
  • 17,675 species are listed as Least Concern

The threat of invasive species:

  • Invasive species are the fifth most severe threat to Amphibians, following habitat loss, pollution, disease and fires.
  • Invasive species are the third most severe threat to Bird species after agriculture and logging.
  • Invasive species are the third most severe threat to Mammals after habitat loss and utilization (mostly for food and medicine)
  • Invasive species are the fourth most severe threat to Reptiles after pollution, persecution and natural disasters.
  • The greatest threats in Europe are water pollution, invasive species and water extraction which impact 66%, 55% and 55% of threatened freshwater fish species, respectively.
  • Invasive species are listed as a major threat to a broad range of marine species facing extinction.


Visit from the Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

The work of the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) and the Pacific Invasives Initiative (PII) received attention from the Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Saturday, 6 June, 2009. Ms Julia Marton Lefevre met members of the two groups at the Tamaki Campus of The University of Auckland, to discuss New Zealand’s world-leading role in invasive species management.

Members of the Pacific Invasives Initiative and the IUCN Invasive SpeciesSpecialist Group

The Director-General was accompanied by Taholo Kami (IUCN Regional Director, Oceania), Diane Shand (IUCN Regional Councillor, Oceania) and Andrew Bignell (Manager International Relations, Department of Conservation). Prior to her visit to Tamaki Campus, Ms Lefevre had been taken to invasive species management projects at Karori in Wellington and Tiritiri Matangi in Auckland. As a result of her experiences in New Zealand and discussions with members of the ISSG and PII staff, the Director-General acknowledged the importance of invasive species management in both biodiversity and livelihood areas and pledged IUCN support for the programmes.

Ms Marton-Lefevre’s visit, her first to the region, had been highly anticipated and highlighted IUCN’s role and experiences in providing a rich platform for all stakeholders to share environmental issues in the region. Her visit also provided the opportunity for discussions to strengthen the role of IUCN in delivering its value propositions with IUCN commission members, members and potential members in the region.

International Day for Biological Diversity 22 May 2009

May 22nd 'The International Day for Biological Diversity 2009'

Message from the Chair

May 22nd 'The International Day for Biological Diversity 2009' was dedicated to invasive alien species. Scientific evidence indicates that biological invasions are growing at an unprecedented rate, posing increasing threats to the diversity of life, and also disrupting ecosystem functionality. Global economies, as well as water supply, food security and human health are impacted negatively.

Despite the urgency to take action against invasions, public awareness on the issue is inadequate. The celebration on May 22nd hopefully made the international community realise the high costs that we are all paying to the globalization of economies, and convinced decision makers to implement the principles that were agreed under the Convention on Biological Diversity (http://www.cbd.int/decision/cop/?id=7197), but never fully applied.

ISSG is ready to do its bit for supporting global action toward biological invasions; our network of leading specialists provide technical advice to policy makers, and, ISSG disseminates the most current and reliable information on invasive species ecology, their impacts on biological diversity and ways to prevent and control their spread.

Piero Genovesi
Chair IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group


Italian Minister of Environment announces support to the Global Invasive Species Database

Ministero dell'AmbienteThe Italian Minister of the Environment, Stefania Prestigiacomo, has announced financial support for the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD), the freely accessible online database of the ISSG. The GISD is acknowledged as the most authoritative and comprehensive database on alien species at the global scale. Following the appointment of Piero Genovesi as the new ISSG chair, GISD will be hosted at the Environmental Protection and Research Institute (ISPRA) in Rome, Italy.

The Italian Ministry of Environment is committed to provide financial contributions to enhance the improvement of the GISD and, in particular, to integrate it with other information services, thus increasing support to decision makers.

The commitment of the Italian Minister is a first implementation of the actions listed in the Syracuse Charter on Biodiversity, agreed at the last G8 Environment Ministers meeting, which calls for developing and strengthening actions to prevent and control the spread of invasive alien species, and support to global information systems.



2011 was declared International Year of Forests by the United Nations. Invasive Species of the Week will feature invasive pests and pathogens of forests through 2011 to raise awareness of the impact of these species on biomass, biodiversity and forest health reducing the integrity of the ecosystem and ecosystem services.

International Year of Forests 2011

Species of the Day was an initiative created for the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010, aiming to raise awareness of the incredible variety of life on Earth. You can visit the Species of the Day archives here. Watch this space for the soon to be launched new series 'Amazing Species'

Related links:

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature

IUCN Commissions

SSC, Species Survival Commission

Directory of SSC Specialist Groups