IUCN - The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland (15.09.2005) - The World Conservation Union is to conduct its first specific assessment of Europe's approximately 281 mammal species. They include a high number of threatened endemic species, amongst them the most endangered big cat in the world - the Iberian lynx.
Only around 250 individuals remain - habitat fragmentation has reduced their numbers to a critical level. The European Mammals Assessment will be conducted over the coming 15 months by leading IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) experts, and is funded by the European Union. The IUCN Regional Office for Europe and SSC, together with IUCN Species Programme staff will jointly undertake the assessment in the framework of the pan-European initiative "Countdown 2010 - Halt the loss of biodiversity".
"The library of life is burning, and we don't even know the titles of the books". This is how Gro Harlem Brundtland once described the global species extinction crisis. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) and its partners have a unique tool to gather knowledge about plants and animals: the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (tm).
Two major products will arise from this assessment: the first European Red List of Threatened Species and the Red List indices. The Red List indices show how the status of threatened species has changed over time and therefore, whether Europe and its countries will meet the 2010 commitment to halt the loss of biodiversity. The project would be a central part of the European (European Environment Agency) and global (Convention on Biological Diversity) efforts to monitor biological diversity. Assessment of other groups of species will also be carried out including freshwater fish and reptiles, between 2005 and 2007. Some of IUCN’s State Members have expressed interest in funding parts of the work. The project is pan-European in scope and about 350.000 Euros of co-funding per year is still needed for 2006, 2007 and 2008 for the assessment of all species groups.