IUCN Red List

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As a Red List of endangered species or just " Red List ", in the original Red Data Book, it originally referred to the published at irregular intervals since 1963 by the World Conservation Union, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources ( IUCN) lists world's endangered species. In the course of historical development, we also saw the publication of Red Lists of endangered plants, and towards the end of the 20th century appeared the first time Red List of fungi or habitat types.

Today, the IUCN is the only organization that conducts a comprehensive Red List as documentation of the world's endangered species. In addition, both the IUCN and other international organizations, governments, political subdivisions as provinces and from the nature conservation associations Red Lists are published with geographical restriction since the 1970s.

The requirements of conservation eventually led that Red Lists of individual taxonomic groups have been published. With global reference here are the publications of the IUCN important as the Red List of geese birds, cats or canines. In countries where the collection of endangered species is well advanced, the creation of such limited Red List is the rule. Examples are the Red Lists of breeding birds in Germany or Switzerland, the United mushrooms.

Red Lists are considered scientific opinions which will serve legislators and authorities as a basis for their actions in relation to the nature and environmental protection. Only in a few states, such as in Switzerland, they are quite effective.

  • 4.1 IUCN
  • 4.2 Germany

National and regional lists

Of states or provinces for their area published Red Lists have a regional focus and thus a different meaning than the international Red List of IUCN. You can respond to geographical features and allow the conservation spot a more comprehensive presentation.

The national Red Lists are published by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation in Bonn in Germany. Currently, the published since 2009, and applied to six volumes Red List of endangered animals, plants and fungi Germany. All states publish their own Red Lists, they are issued by ministries or state agencies responsible for environmental protection and nature conservation. Under the principle of "endangering not mean protection" have the Red Lists in Germany only the status of expert opinions, they serve the legislature and the authorities as a source of information.

The national Red Lists are published by the Federal Environment Agency in Austria. Several Austrian Länder publish regional Red Lists.

In Switzerland, the Federal Office for the Environment ( FOEN) published the national Red Lists. Here are the Red List since 1991, according to Article 14 paragraph 3 of the German Regulation on Nature and Cultural Heritage Protection an enforceable instrument of nature and landscape protection, " biotopes worthy of protection referred because (...) of endangered and rare plant and animal species, which in are listed the Red Lists, issued or recognized by the FOEN. "

An ever- increasing number of other countries published national red lists. There are also Red List of intergovernmental organizations such as the European Union and the HELCOM. The IUCN published so far more regionally limited lists such as the freshwater fauna of East Africa.



1962 was the IUCN out the 1st International Red List, this was originally called Red Data Book. It was released by S. Boyle, Sir P. Scott, B. Grzimek and others. The name Red Data Book goes back to the Insurance Catalogue for missing ships of London insurance Lloyds. The first version contained detailed descriptions of 211 species of mammals and 312 species of birds.

In the second version from 1966 528 mammal species, 628 bird species, 119 reptile species and 34 amphibian species have been classified. In addition, for the first time the division into four different risk categories was made.

The third edition was published in 1972.

The 4th edition was published in 1981 and einhielt 305 mammals, 258 birds, 90 reptiles, 40 amphibians and 193 species of fish for the first time.

From the 5th edition in 1982 separate lists for individual groups of animals were created (eg, primates and butterflies).

From the 6th edition 1988, the species descriptions were deleted from the list.

Other editions are 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1996 appeared.

In 1992, the now valid breakdowns of species was introduced into eight categories (EX, EW, CR, EN, VU, NT, LC, DD).

1994 was first classified invertebrates: 1205 mollusc species and 1184 species of insects.

The last edition in book form was published in 1996 and contained 5205 species, of which 1 891 invertebrate species. In addition, for the first time the category EX was performed.

The first online edition (only animals) appeared in 1996, 1998, the group's first plant, in 2000 appeared the first Red List what plants and animals contained.

The 2007 edition, published by the IUCN contained 16,308 endangered species. The following table shows an example of how many percent of the species known today a group of the IUCN as threatened panelist:

These four groups were also the only ones whose threat status based on the assessment of all or at least the majority of species.

A special focus in presenting the 2008 Red List of IUCN was placed on the mammals. In the first comprehensive study of its kind in over a decade ( to her in 1800 scientists from 130 countries involved) are, at least 1141 of 5488 mammal species (21 percent) as " threatened " (categories CR, EN and VU).

188 species keep the researchers are even threatened with extinction ( critically endangered ), such as the Iberian lynx, of which only 84-143 adult individuals live.

The actual number of threatened species could be even higher, since at around 840 other mammal species is not enough information. This would make it possible that up to 36 percent of all species are threatened mammals.

Development in Germany

The first annotated lists of endangered plant and bird species have been published in Germany in 1951, 1966 and 1967. They contained safety instructions and can be regarded as precursors of the Red Lists.

The first designated as such in Germany Red List was published in 1971: It was a list of the German Section of the International Council for Bird Preservation. The first Red List of endangered ferns and flowering plants of the Federal Republic was published in 1974.

The Red List of Germany used since the 1970s largely the hazard criteria of the IUCN. Since 1986 has been discussed several times about altering the criteria system used. It should be pointed out not only the current extinction of a species in the sense of a state description, but a comprehensive hazard analysis be performed, including long-term trends at the species level. The development of the methodology used in the collection Red lists led since the 1990s, to the fact that the Red Lists of Germany differ from those of the IUCN to a far greater degree than express the different terms of the risk categories.

1996 ( plants) and 1998 (animals) were issued in each case a band the last two national red lists, some of them are still valid. The list of plants included for the first time in the sense of an inventory of all species present, regardless of their risk status.

The published from 2009 six-volume Red List of endangered animals, plants and fungi Germany is a comprehensive list of species to species groups of animals and fungi. It was first applied across all groups of organisms uniform risk criteria, which differ markedly from those of IUCN. Short-term population trends are presented as an aid to assess measures of conservation, Germany's responsibility for the protection on a global or European scale, the last evidence of extinct or -lost species, and their status as alien species at the species level for the first time. In addition, all species are also details on the threat status in the federal states and the physiographic regions contain large. Several species groups, the robber flies, centipedes, millipedes and isopods were evaluated for the first time.

Today is pursued in Germany for both the national Red Lists as well as for the states a show at a distance of about ten years, for breeding birds of five years.

Development in Switzerland

The first Red List of Switzerland appeared in 1977 with the Red List of Birds. 1982 in addition to a revision of this list also Red Lists of amphibians and reptiles and vascular plants have been published. By 1990, followed by lists of Segetal and ruderal plants, the gnats, butterflies, dragonflies and fish and cyclostomes. All these lists were compiled by experts and published as brochures or scientific publications.

Official recognition gained the Red Lists in the late 1980s with the establishment of the Ministry for the Environment, Forests and Landscape ( FOEN ), a forerunner of today's Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN ), and in 1991 with the new habitat protection products of Nature and Cultural Heritage Protection Ordinance, the biotopes because of their species listed in the Red Lists characterized as worthy of protection. Within this new framework a Red list of ferns and flowering plants in 1991 by the Federal Office published. In 1994 an anthology of eleven Red List, the detected 2400 invertebrate and 376 vertebrate species.

Since 1999, the creation of the Red List of Switzerland in the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment ( FOEN ) Red - list program is summarized, and since 2000, the IUCN criteria are uniformly applied. This was, without compromising the quality of previously published lists in question, a comparison of red lists for different states or groups of organisms sought.

By 2010, of the 45 890 known species in Switzerland 10,350 were assessed for the Red List, were classified as endangered or regionally extinct 3741, or 36 percent. At this time lay before 27 Red Lists, in addition to all classes of vertebrates were 15 groups of invertebrates, vascular plants, mosses, Chara, large mushrooms, lichens and soil lichens assessed.

In contrast to Germany and Austria only a few cantonal or regional Red Lists were created in Switzerland, so in 1983 for the Aletsch region and 1986 for the Canton of Aargau. By 2010, one or more Red Lists have been published for the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Basel -Land, Vaud, Geneva, Aargau, Schaffhausen and Zurich. The reasons for the almost complete absence of Regional Red Lists was initially the small size of the country and the account of the regions in the first national Red Lists. Today, the fact that the hazard criteria of the IUCN are adapted to larger spatial entities shall be considered the major reason.

Based on the Red List, a blue list of successfully received or sponsored animal and plant species has been in Switzerland since 1998, sought with subsidized and away from the red list species, the only developed within the framework of a pilot project and released Blue List comprised the cantons Aargau, Schaffhausen and Zurich. The primary aim was to show that the promotion of biodiversity is worth and success can be achieved. The concept of independent Blue lists has not prevailed, the basic idea that can be integrated with references to developments over previous editions on the Red Lists.


Among the most important lists of threatened habitats include:

  • Fauna-Flora -Habitat Directive and the EU Birds Directive, the priority ( priority to be protected ) list in the Annexes species and habitats

From the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, a Red List of endangered habitats will be issued. This contains about 69 percent of all habitat types in Germany.

Risk categories

Since the second edition of the Red Data Book of the IUCN in 1966 the degree of risk of individual species was represented by their classification into different risk categories. The first national or regional Red Lists used mostly own categories, which makes comparability was given neither between different countries or regions, nor between different taxonomic groups. Meanwhile, a standardization of the risk categories is often sought, the categories of the IUCN are used in many national Red Lists and Red Lists of Germany and the German states use a uniform system of categories. The long-term retention once imported categories simplifies the comparison of identified risk levels for long periods.


The Red List of IUCN based on the scientific assessment of the likelihood that a species or a child taxon is extinct in the near future in nature. To this end, a combination of factors is evaluated, the most important are the observed, estimated, inferred or suspected reduction of population size over a period of ten years or three generations, the size of the distribution area or the actual populated area, and the estimated size of the population. A smaller size of the population or the distribution area or a greater decrease in population size leads to the classification of a type rated in a higher risk category.

The IUCN uses the adjacent categories, which are also used in the national Red List of Switzerland, Scandinavian countries, the United States and other countries.

The categories " threatened with extinction " ( critically endangered ), " high risk " ( endangered ) and "endangered" ( vulnerable ) can be combined to specify the number of "at risk" species ( threatened ).


The threat to species is given by the classification in the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN ) developed the Red List categories. Where:

The lists give the hazard situation in Germany or the State in question again. Of importance, this is especially for the Category 0 This means here that the species is extinct in the corresponding region. Since there are only very few are endemic species in Germany, there are usually elsewhere additional populations. It is therefore, in contrast to the category of the IUCN to a "just" local extinction.

Deviating from a status is given in previous editions of the national red lists or those of the states: