Red List

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List report, begun in the 1960s, is a compilation of data on the extinction risk of plant, animal, and fungi species worldwide. In addition to the worldwide Red List, there are lists specific to different regions and countries. The first Swiss Red List, focused on birds, was developed in the 1970s, undertaken by volunteer groups of scientists and researchers concerned about the conservation status of local species. In the years that followed, other lists were released that focused on vascular plants, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and several other species categories. These separate projects were grouped into one at the end of the 1990s by the Federal Office for the Environment. Swiss Red Lists from this time onward have been compiled following the analysis criteria of the IUCN, which is headquartered in Gland, near Geneva. As of the 2010 Swiss status report, 10,350 species had been evaluated; of these, 36% were categorized as threatened, a high proportion of which were species living in wetlands, along waterways, and in ruderal areas; 3% of the evaluated species were determined to be extinct in Switzerland; 5% critically endangered; 11% endangered; 17% vulnerable; and 10% near threatened. (For an explanation of these categories, click here.) Higher proportions of threatened species are found in Switzerland’s Central Plateau region, which runs from the canton of Geneva, along Lake Geneva through the canton of Vaud, and onward to Bern, Zurich, and St. Gallen; this is also the area of the country that is most densely populated with humans. Red Lists, including Switzerland’s list, only include wild indigenous species, excluding non-native species that have been introduced to an area (accidentally or not). These latter species are compiled in a Black List and Gray List, referring to, respectively, species that are considered foreign, invasive, and harmful, and foreign species that are potentially so.

Image: Visualization of IUCN Red List. Image by Karanrajpal123 via Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under Creative Commons.

See also: Black List, ecocidegiant orchidstag beetle

Related interview: Philippe Clerc

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