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Global reach, local impacts

The Red List of Ecosystems can provide critical information on sustainable development and human well-being.
My name is Loyiso Dunga. I’m from South Africa.
I am currently a master’s student, and my project entails mapping South African kelp forests, and then the second aspect of this project is to assess the ecosystem condition. I’m actually participating in this workshop because they are using an international red listing of ecosystem approach. We are quite interested in using this approach further in South Africa to assess our ecosystems. Currently, what is happening– we have about 151 modern ecosystem types, and then we’ve attempted to move from our original means of ecosystem assessment. And then we are adopting the international standard, which is the IUCN, so I am here to actually gain more knowledge and learn from experts from around the world.
I grew up not knowing actually that there was forests that are occuring under the sea. It is quite recent knowledge that I acquired, so I think in 2016 I went for my first snorkel. I was being introduced to the subject of my study, and then I remember I came back with few words to describe my experience because I was blown away. And then from that moment, I knew that I wanted to work in these systems.

Bring your own experience to the table and discuss your ideas.

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems is having an impact on conservation around the world. You can be part of this positive change.

A global resource for local action

The Red List of Ecosystems assesses the risk of ecosystem collapse, using scientific criteria that measure change in area and ecosystem function. The criteria allow assessors to place ecosystems into risk categories (such as Endangered and Vulnerable) that are consistent, informative and meaningful, and are applicable to all ecosystems – marine, terrestrial and freshwater.

Our global community of conservation practitioners and researchers has developed many resources and tools that can help you understand and undertake Red List assessments. We will refer to many of these resources throughout the course, so we recommend you bookmark them now.

  • The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) website is the core source of information for the RLE, with news updates, blogs, key documents and tools to support assessments.
  • The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems guidelines provide detailed information and advice for applying the criteria and categories.
  • The Global Ecosystem Typology provides a framework for describing the ecosystems of the world (you’ll learn more about this through the course).
  • The RLE team is currently developing a new global database of Red List assessments. The new RLE database will house all RLE assessments, and currently has a subset of the thousands that have been performed globally. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its full development and launch has been delayed.

In addition we provide an IUCN Red List of Ecosystems acronyms list in English, Spanish, French and Chinese. We also provide transcripts for the course videos in these languages (see Downloads below).

Uptake and impact around the world

Our team recently reviewed the progress of IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. We found substantial outcomes and impacts since 2014, when the Red List of Ecosystems was adopted as the global standard by the IUCN. There’s been remarkable uptake by governments, industry and communities.

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems approach has been applied in over 100 countries, including national Red Lists in South Africa, Colombia and Norway. It supports environmental legislation in countries like Australia, Finland and South Africa, where the presence of threatened ecosystems can act as triggers for legal protection and changes to land-use planning.

We’ll examine some of these success stories in this course. The Red List of Ecosystems can provide critical information on sustainable development and human well-being. It can help governments, industry and commerce to make decisions that work for everyone.

We need your help

To fully harness the power of the Red List of Ecosystems we need more assessments, collaborators and conservation action. Our aim is to assess all the ecosystems of the world by 2025.

Later in this course we will invite you to choose a ‘home ecosystem’ to learn and apply some of the key concepts in the Red List of Ecosystems. Think about which ecosystem you will choose as you progress through the early stages of the course. Your home ecosystem may be one you love, are concerned about, or want to visit and know more about.

Your task

Watch the video of Loyiso Dunga from SANBI in South Africa. Loyiso completed our four day Red List of Ecosystems training in Kenya in 2019 and is blown away by his study ecosystem, the South African kelp forests.

Like Loyiso Dunga, you can contribute to this project, starting here in this course. Take a moment to share why you joined this course and what kinds of things do you hope to gain from studying the Red List of Ecosystems? Like Loyiso, you may be inspired by a passion for a particular ecosystem.

To begin our learning together, share the words you associate with the term ‘ecosystem’ in this WordCloud. Click on the link to see what emerges for us as a group.

We will delve into the concepts that underpin ecosystem risk assessment shortly.

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IUCN Red List of Ecosystems: The Global Standard for Assessing Risks to Ecosystems

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