Sharing knowledge

The IUCN Red List is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. It is a comprehensive and objective approach for evaluating the conservation status and extinction risk of thousands of species of plants and animals. Essentially it is a database of taxa that have undergone an extinction risk assessment using IUCN’s Red List Categories and Criteria.

The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria were developed primarily for application at the global level, meaning that any assessments of non-endemic species based on these criteria could result in misleading listings at the regional level. IUCN has therefore formulated regional guidelines for the assessment of endemic and non-endemic species. Species shall be assessed primarily at the global level, but also using the regional guidelines, in order to create comprehensive species accounts for the Pacific islands.

Species accounts shall be updated periodically to allow monitoring of biodiversity and determination of the success of conservation initiatives.

Completion of biodiversity assessments for freshwater fishes, land snails and reptiles

Following a review process in 2008, IUCN Oceania successfully secured funds from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund to begin biodiversity assessments for three taxonomic groups –freshwater fishes, land snails and reptiles. With the assistance of SPREP, additional counterpart funding was also secured from the Fonds Pacifique.

The first step in completing these biodiversity assessments was to bring local, regional and international scientists together at a Red List Training workshop in Fiji. This workshop was largely made up of practical sessions where specialists used species data to learn how to carry out assessments based on the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. 

Over the course of 2011, the workshop attendees gathered data on population, distribution, ecology, habitat requirements, threats, and utilization for the focal species of this project. The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria were applied in order to obtain a relative risk of extinction for each species being assessed. Experts came together at an evaluation workshop in September 2011 in order to review and finalize the species accounts, and create accompanying digital maps. 

The resulting biodiversity assessments for 167 freshwater fishes, 166 species of land snail and 157 reptiles will be included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (IUCN Red List). Summary reports for each of these groups are now available (see right column)

IUCN Oceania’s long term aim of improving information on the Red List is to empower people and governments to effectively utilize this data to guide conservation decision-making and planning, raise awareness of threatened species and promote the integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the region.

This project is the beginning of a process that aims to comprehensively assess species of the Pacific Islands, according to the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. This first stage has focused on Red List assessments for freshwater fishes, land snails, and reptiles in the Pacific Islands. Future work is planned on other taxonomic groups such as select invertebrates, plants and coral reef fishes in order to create a comprehensive dataset to guide conservation actions in the Pacific Islands.

Coral reef fish assessments in the Pacific

The Global Marine Species Assessment, a joint collaboration between IUCN’s Species Programme and Conservation International, is working to assess individual marine species for inclusion and publication on the IUCN Red List. In 2010, only 10% of species contained in the Red List were found in marine environments.

There is therefore a huge gap in our understanding of marine species, especially fishes and invertebrates. The GMSA team is working to fill these gaps at the global level, but also regionally where possible.

In November 2010, a workshop was held in Nadi, Fiji to assess the status of damselfishes (Pomacentridae) in the Oceania region and at the global level. A second workshop was held in January 2011 in Koror, Palau to assess the status of Gobies and Cardinalfishes (Gobiidae and Apogonidae). The workshops brought together the world’s leading experts on damselfishes, gobies and cardinalfishes and assessed approximately 500 species according to the IUCN Red List categories and criteria. Further funding is being sought to complete additional taxonomic groups of marine species.