Responding to gaps in knowledge in the Mediterranean region
Biodiversity loss, on which so much of human life depends, is one of the world’s most pressing crises. Causes of biodiversity loss are complex, and solutions require involving multiple groups, from governments to civil society. Yet without reliable, timely information on the status and trends of biodiversity there is little hope of stemming the extinction crisis. Effective action hinges upon both rapid and consistent monitoring of the status of wild plant and animal species and measuring the impacts of human activities.
The Mediterranean region is recognised as a Global Biodiversity Hotspot, both in the terrestrial and marine environments, that is subject to rapid anthropogenic change. In particular, and following the results of the first Mediterranean Biodiversity Assessment, it became apparent that there are major regional gaps in relation to the lack of knowledge on the status of plant and invertebrate species, which accounts for a major part of the Mediterranean biodiversity. In addition this assessment revealed that rivers and wetlands are some of the ecosystems most threatened in the Mediterranean region.
Action: what needs to be done?
To adequately assess the status of species and therefore biodiversity in the long-term, credible baselines for select groups of species are essential. These baselines can be determined only by intensive data gathering, monitoring and analysis, against which changes in status and trends can be measured. The absence of these measurable indicators or indices to date means that critical information is lacking, such as the overall status of biodiversity in the Mediterranean; the relative seriousness of different types of threats; the extent to which specific conservation measures are in place to protect threatened species; the changes in global rates of species extinctions; and the extent to which sufficient information is available on species to determine their conservation status.
The vision of the Red List initiative is to make reliable information on the status of biodiversity available to support the work of conservation agencies, development assistance agencies, scientists, land-use planners, policy-makers and others. Red List data are primarily used as an indicator of biodiversity trends at the species level, but can also be extrapolated for use as an in indicator of trends at the habitat/ecosystem level.
IUCN, through its Species Survival Commission (SSC), produces the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. The SSC is a global network of 8000 experts and the Red List is the result of co-operation and collaboration with many scientists and national and international conservation organizations. The IUCN Red List is based on the application of a set of scientific, quantitative criteria to individual species, and is widely recognized by both governments and non-governmental organizations as the most authoritative global listing of species threatened with extinction. At the request of its members IUCN also developed guidelines to apply the Red List categories and criteria at the regional scale, providing a tool that can be used at a Mediterranean level.
Main activities envisaged for Red Listing include:
a) Contact experts
IUCN has active Specialist Groups and Task Forces for some of the taxonomic groups to be assessed, and in other cases the Coordinator will have to contact relevant experts to provide the required input. This initial task will not only strengthen the IUCN network of experts in the Mediterranean, but it will also strengthen the expert advice available in future and will act to generate capacity and contacts among expert networks.
b) Preliminary compilation of assessments
Expert consultants (within and outside IUCN) will make the first compilation of data for each species based on existing published scientific literature and expert knowledge. An initial status assessment is made based on the 2001 IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria and the 2003 Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional Levels. This information will then provide the basis for the assessment workshops.
c) Expert workshops
For each of the invertebrate species groups to be assessed (butterflies, beetles and anthozoan species) IUCN will organise one workshop in a Mediterranean country. Larger groups, like the plant species will require multiple workshops (3 workshops).
d) Final compilation of assessments
Once the workshop has taken place, the Project coordinator will review the data that result from the workshop and adjust assessments and information wherever required and justified. Assessments will also be consistency-checked to ensure a coherent use of the categories and criteria. The information will then be sent one last time to the experts who participated in the workshop for their comments and review.
e) Dataset completion
Once a final assessment has been completed the coordinator will finalise the dataset and associated information and submit it to the IUCN Red List Unit for approval. It will then be published on the IUCN Red List website. Further analysis of the data and communication material will be created and disseminated at this stage.
Main activities envisaged for identification of Important Freshwater areas (IFWA) include:
The methodology is biodiversity - based, consequently any recommendations made will require further integration with other considerations, such as economic and social reviews by freshwater managers and decision makers. Therefore, the IFWA identification process involves two main stages: a first stage for collecting data, applying thresholds and then identifying potential freshwater KBAs; and a second stage to refine the list of potential KBAs based on the other factors (social etc).
- The project specific outputs are:
- Conservation status of 1,500 priority plant species assessed
- Conservation status of 400 Mediterranean butterflies assessed
- Conservation status of 400-500 Mediterranean saproxylic beetles assessed
- Conservation status of 70 – 80 Mediterranean dung beetles assessed
- Conservation status of ca. 200 Mediterranean anthozoan species assessed
- Important Freshwater Areas (IFWA) in the Mediterranean region identified
- Priorities defined and site-based pilot projects in the IFWA identified for the Mediterranean region
- Information made available to decision-makers and stakeholders
The project will be coordinated by the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (Malaga, Spain) and the IUCN Regional Office for Pan-Europe, working in close collaboration with the IUCN Global Species Programme (Programme units in Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, UK) and the IUCN Species Survival Commission.
Financial support is provided by MAVA Foundation, regional government of Junta de Andalucía, Organismo Autónomo de Parques Nacionales, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environement in Spain and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).
From April 2011 to April 2015 (4 years)
More information: Catherine Numa
IUCN-Med receives core financial support from the Ministry of Environment of the Junta de Andalucia, the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).