Mediterranean Biodiversity Assessment

Iberian Lynx

Responding to gaps in knowledge in the Mediterranean region


The Mediterranean region is recognised as a Global Biodiversity Hotspot, both in the terrestrial and marine environments, that is subject to rapid anthropogenic change.


Like in most regions of the world, knowledge of the biodiversity of the Mediterranean region is heterogeneous at country level, sometimes restricted to species lists, occasionally also including spatial distribution. Data is dispersed, and there is no regional summary, nor internationally recognised baseline for easily assessing which plants or invertebrates listed as endemic or on national red lists are in fact truly threatened. Taxonomic expertise is often lacking, and there may be disagreements on nomenclature and classification, especially for the lower taxonomic groups. Protection measures for large mammals (eg. seals, cetaceans, antelopes) and birds tend to be adequate , but where biodiversity hotspots for flora, and other groups, have been identified there is as yet little explicit linkage to regional and national policies, beyond the limited species lists under the Habitats Directive and Barcelona Convention.


The IUCN Mediterranean Biodiversity Assessment Initiative aims to produce an analysis of a wide range of species at a regional level; it will be the first at this scale and will be replicated at other global biodiversity hotspots around the world in the future. In addition, occurrence of threatened species is a key criterion in the identification of key biodiversity areas through combining spatial data on all vertebrate and plant species, hence moving away from "Important Bird Areas" or "Important Plant Areas" towards a more holistic approach to biodiversity conservation.

IUCN's role

IUCN has already begun the assessment of Mediterranean reptile, amphibian, shark and freshwater fish species. This has demonstrated not only the willingness of the scientific community, the vast majority of whom act in this process as volunteers, to contribute to the assessments, but the degree to which the conservation community considers a Regional Red List as an essential regional tool for guiding and assessing nature conservation priorities and progress.

The initiative seeks to mobilize existing knowledge on species status that may be dispersed or unpublished, and ensure that it is made available for conservation purposes. The key role of IUCN is to coordinate the process ensuring full participation of all appropriate experts, validate the quality of the information, ensuring results of the highest scientific quality, and free of potential individual interests of participating scientists.


  1. Assess regional species status for the major taxonomic groups
  2. Support the assessment process and the production of national Red Lists to guide conservation decision-making and monitoring at national level (eg Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey).

The objective is to compile the data and the species assessments that form the basis of the Mediterranean Red List for the major taxonomic groups. IUCN will manage the work being done among the different Specialist Groups and coordinate the incoming data to ensure that assessments are completed to standard and within the timeframe. Once a preliminary assessment has been completed and compiled, a workshop will be organised to validate the results. Finally the coordinator (assisted by a consultant, appropriate Red List Authority or Commission specialist group chair) will go through each of the assessments made and the feedback from the workshop to derive a final compilation of assessments that will provide the final outputs of the assessment process and the basis for the reports and information dissemination.


Thirteen taxonomic groups (amphibians, cetaceans, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, mammals, molluscs, aquatic plants, freshwater fishes, marine fishes, sharks and rays, reptiles, marine vegetation), have been evaluated (the initial project was on 10 groups), due to synergies with other projects (assessment of freshwater in Africa, etc.).

Partners / Donors

The project received the support of several donors including the MAVA Foundation, the AECID, the European Commission, the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, and the TOTAL Foundation.


May 2006 to December 2010.

Budget: 846.000 Euros

More info:  Catherine Numa

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