IUCN Red List update shows up global failure to slow biodiversity loss

WWF respond to the Red List

The latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species should cause alarm over the continuing unprecedented loss of species and the failure so far of mechanisms to arrest biodiversity loss, WWF said today. The 2009 Red List, issued by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, shows that more than one-third (36 per cent) of the 47,677 species assessed are threatened with extinction.

The Red List ranks species according to their population status and threat levels. It shows the impact that loss and degradation of habitat, over-exploitation, pollutants and climate change are having on the world's species. This year's assessment included a special focus on freshwater species which are being hit hard by pollution, loss of wetlands and water diversions. The planet’s amphibians are the most threatened of all species with 1,895 of 6,285 species assessed in the Red List threatened with extinction.

"The continued and unprecedented loss of species must not be accepted as just a sad reality we can do nothing about. Biodiversity loss is an alarming indicator of the general health of our planet and for the wellbeing of our own species. We must act to halt this decline," said Mark Wright, conservation science advisor at WWF-UK.

"In 2002, a globally endorsed commitment on the Convention on Biological Diversity promised to deliver a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. We're not even close to meeting this. This failure and the mechanisms to overcome it will need to be the dominant agenda item on next year’s meeting of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.”

Significant international meetings next year - International Year of Biodiversity - to address biodiversity loss and the threats to planetary life support systems include a major Conferences of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).