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Caracas, Venezuela

Keith D.A.,University of New South Wales | Keith D.A.,Australian National University | Rodriguez J.P.,IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management | Rodriguez J.P.,Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research | And 19 more authors.
Conservation Letters | Year: 2015

In response to growing demand for ecosystem-level risk assessment in biodiversity conservation, and rapid proliferation of locally tailored protocols, the IUCN recently endorsed new Red List criteria as a global standard for ecosystem risk assessment. Four qualities were sought in the design of the IUCN criteria: generality; precision; realism; and simplicity. Drawing from extensive global consultation, we explore trade-offs among these qualities when dealing with key challenges, including ecosystem classification, measuring ecosystem dynamics, degradation and collapse, and setting decision thresholds to delimit ordinal categories of threat. Experience from countries with national lists of threatened ecosystems demonstrates well-balanced trade-offs in current and potential applications of Red Lists of Ecosystems in legislation, policy, environmental management and education. The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems should be judged by whether it achieves conservation ends and improves natural resource management, whether its limitations are outweighed by its benefits, and whether it performs better than alternative methods. Future development of the Red List of Ecosystems will benefit from the history of the Red List of Threatened Species which was trialed and adjusted iteratively over 50 years from rudimentary beginnings. We anticipate the Red List of Ecosystems will promote policy focus on conservation outcomes in situ across whole landscapes and seascapes. © 2015 The Authors.

Rodriguez J.P.,Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research | Rodriguez-Clark K. M.,Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research | Baillie J.E.M.,Zoological Society of London | Ash N.,IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature | And 20 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2011

The potential for conservation of individual species has been greatly advanced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) development of objective, repeatable, and transparent criteria for assessing extinction risk that explicitly separate risk assessment from priority setting. At the IV World Conservation Congress in 2008, the process began to develop and implement comparable global standards for ecosystems. A working group established by the IUCN has begun formulating a system of quantitative categories and criteria, analogous to those used for species, for assigning levels of threat to ecosystems at local, regional, and global levels. A final system will require definitions of ecosystems; quantification of ecosystem status; identification of the stages of degradation and loss of ecosystems; proxy measures of risk (criteria); classification thresholds for these criteria; and standardized methods for performing assessments. The system will need to reflect the degree and rate of change in an ecosystem's extent, composition, structure, and function, and have its conceptual roots in ecological theory and empirical research. On the basis of these requirements and the hypothesis that ecosystem risk is a function of the risk of its component species, we propose a set of four criteria: recent declines in distribution or ecological function, historical total loss in distribution or ecological function, small distribution combined with decline, or very small distribution. Most work has focused on terrestrial ecosystems, but comparable thresholds and criteria for freshwater and marine ecosystems are also needed. These are the first steps in an international consultation process that will lead to a unified proposal to be presented at the next World Conservation Congress in 2012. © 2010 Society for Conservation Biology.

Walker W.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Baccini A.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Schwartzman S.,Environmental Defense Fund EDF | Rios S.,Instituto Del Bien Comun IBC | And 9 more authors.
Carbon Management | Year: 2014

Carbon sequestration is a widely acknowledged and increasingly valued function of tropical forest ecosystems; however, until recently, the information needed to assess the carbon storage capacity of Amazonian indigenous territories (ITs) and protected natural areas (PNAs) in a global context remained either lacking or out of reach. Here, as part of a novel north-south collaboration among Amazonian indigenous and non-governmental organization (NGO) networks, scientists and policy experts, we show that the nine-nation network of nearly 3000 ITs and PNAs stores more carbon above ground than all of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia combined, and, despite the ostensibly secure status of these cornerstones of Amazon conservation, a conservative risk assessment considering only ongoing and planned development projects puts nearly 20% of this carbon at risk, encompassing an area of tropical forest larger than that found in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru combined. International recognition of and renewed investment in these globally vital landscapes are therefore critical to ensuring their continued contribution to maintaining cultural identity, ecosystem integrity and climate stability. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.

Keith D.A.,University of New South Wales | Rodriguez J.P.,Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research | Rodriguez-Clark K.M.,Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research | Nicholson E.,University of Melbourne | And 31 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

An understanding of risks to biodiversity is needed for planning action to slow current rates of decline and secure ecosystem services for future human use. Although the IUCN Red List criteria provide an effective assessment protocol for species, a standard global assessment of risks to higher levels of biodiversity is currently limited. In 2008, IUCN initiated development of risk assessment criteria to support a global Red List of ecosystems. We present a new conceptual model for ecosystem risk assessment founded on a synthesis of relevant ecological theories. To support the model, we review key elements of ecosystem definition and introduce the concept of ecosystem collapse, an analogue of species extinction. The model identifies four distributional and functional symptoms of ecosystem risk as a basis for assessment criteria: A) rates of decline in ecosystem distribution; B) restricted distributions with continuing declines or threats; C) rates of environmental (abiotic) degradation; and D) rates of disruption to biotic processes. A fifth criterion, E) quantitative estimates of the risk of ecosystem collapse, enables integrated assessment of multiple processes and provides a conceptual anchor for the other criteria. We present the theoretical rationale for the construction and interpretation of each criterion. The assessment protocol and threat categories mirror those of the IUCN Red List of species. A trial of the protocol on terrestrial, subterranean, freshwater and marine ecosystems from around the world shows that its concepts are workable and its outcomes are robust, that required data are available, and that results are consistent with assessments carried out by local experts and authorities. The new protocol provides a consistent, practical and theoretically grounded framework for establishing a systematic Red List of the world's ecosystems. This will complement the Red List of species and strengthen global capacity to report on and monitor the status of biodiversity.

Rodriguez J.P.,Instituto Venezolano Of Investigaciones Cientificas | Keith D.A.,University of New South Wales | Rodriguez-Clark K.M.,Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research | Murray N.J.,University of New South Wales | And 10 more authors.
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences | Year: 2015

The newly developed IUCN Red List of Ecosystems is part of a growing toolbox for assessing risks to biodiversity, which addresses ecosystems and their functioning. The Red List of Ecosystems standard allows systematic assessment of all freshwater, marine, terrestrial and subterranean ecosystem types in terms of their global risk of collapse. In addition, the Red List of Ecosystems categories and criteria provide a technical base for assessments of ecosystem status at the regional, national, or subnational level. While the Red List of Ecosystems criteria were designed to be widely applicable by scientists and practitioners, guidelines are needed to ensure they are implemented in a standardized manner to reduce epistemic uncertainties and allow robust comparisons among ecosystems and over time. We review the intended application of the Red List of Ecosystems assessment process, summarize 'best-practice' methods for ecosystem assessments and outline approaches to ensure operational rigour of assessments. The Red List of Ecosystems will inform priority setting for ecosystem types worldwide, and strengthen capacity to report on progress towards the Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity. When integrated with other IUCN knowledge products, such as the World Database of Protected Areas/Protected Planet, Key Biodiversity Areas and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Red List of Ecosystems will contribute to providing the most complete global measure of the status of biodiversity yet achieved. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

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