Commission on Ecosystem Management

Red List of Ecosystems

A key tool that allows for tackling, globally and nationally, different aspects of the public policies and easing the achievement of international goals regarding conservation
King George Island

Thematic Group Lead:

David Keith  and Emily Nicholson 

Other relevant contacts:
Rebecca Miller and Kaia Boe 

CEM Focal Point:
Bernal Herrera 


Since the Industrial Revolution, the biodiversity we know has experienced major losses with an increased acceleration over the last 60 years.  Ecosystems have been one of its most affected components. In 2008, during the IV World Congress of Conservation, the process to develop criteria to estimate their risk condition was activated. With such process, the IUCN laid the foundations to create the Red List of Ecosystems, a key tool that allows for tackling, globally and nationally, different aspects of the public policies and easing the achievement of international goals regarding conservation. Its application, along with other products of the IUCN, provides a unique opportunity for the planning of conservation. The RLE was officially acknowledged by the IUCN in 2014. Until that moment, there was not an assessment system of ecosystems that separated the risk analysis from the priorities of conservation. Currently, it is being completed the first continental RLE in America, and there are several national RLE and assessments for unique ecosystems. The goal is to have all ecosystems of the world assessed by 2025. To obtain more information please visit

IUCN’s work on the RLE

Main objectives

The main objective of the RLE of the IUCN is to assess and document the conservation condition of ecosystems of the world: from the most threatened to the ones in good conservation conditions. Another objective is to promote the interaction with other products of the IUCN to have a more certain outlook of the situation of the biodiversity.

Impact/results to date

Up to 2016, it was completed the Red List of Forest Ecosystems of America. There are also seven national and four regional RLE, and 31 ecosystems assessed as case studies. There exist the conceptual foundations and guidelines to apply criteria on line. Training courses have been provided in international events, and it was provided a course for professionals of the conservation world, with the participation of twelve countries.

In 2012, it was launched the RLE website, which counts with over 130 thousand visits from more than 190 countries. It is also present in social media such as Facebook (5000 followers), and Twitter (3000 followers). Information is provided in the three main languages of the IUCN. In the search of institutionalizing knowledge, it also counts with a biannual photography contest, which highlights the beauty of healthy ecosystems against altered or modified environments.

Planned activities

We are already working in the publishing of the results of the RLE of the American Continent; the searching of funds to continue with global assessments, and support to national initiatives of great impact in the world context due to their scope (China, Brazil, etc.) or their distinctive features. The goal is to count with a RLE of the world by 2025. The selection of a useful classification by ecosystem type at global and national levels is being supported from the Committee for Scientific Standards.

It is planned the design of an online course on the application of the protocol and in-person trainings; and the development of additional technical tools to ease the use of open databases.

Key events

Recent Events

  1. Meeting of the Committee for Scientific Standards IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. Helsinki, Finland, March, 2015.
  2. 1st International Course on the Red List of Ecosystems: Instrument for the Planning of Biodiversity Conservation Systems. CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica, 7th – 10th April, 2015.
  3. CEM Steering Meeting, Turrialba, Costa Rica, April 2015.
  4. Presentations of the results of the RLE, Brazil-Chile-Colombia-Ecuador, between Jun – September 2015.
  5. 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology. Montpellier, France, August 2015:
    1. The Red List of Ecosystems in Brazil – subnational pilot experiences towards a broad implementation strategy.
    2. Developing ecosystem viability analysis to inform the IUCN red list of ecosystems.
    3. Managing scale dependence of distribution maps in ecosystem risk assessment.
    4. Demonstrating an effective marine biodiversity observation network in the Santa Barbara channel: the role of remote sensing.
  6. RLE China Training Workshop, China, October 2015
  7. IUCN Red List of Ecosystems strategic planning meeting. Melbourne, Australia, November, 2015.

Upcoming events

  1. Launch of the new web portal and announcement of the 3rd IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Photo Contest. March, 2016
  2. Participation in the IUCN World Conservation Congress, Hawaii, with various events. 1st – 10th September, 2016.
  3. Announcement of the winners of the 3rd IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Photo Contest. Hawaii, September, 2016


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