Rio+20 Red List Identifies 63,837 Threatened Species

This week, political leaders from around the world are gathered at the Rio+20 Summit to identify the path forward for our species. For many, achieving a sustainable future for the human race first requires us to admit the other species we’ve pushed to the brink.

Today in Rio, The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released its most recent Red List, a comprehensive index of the world’s most threatened species. The plants and animals assessed for the IUCN Red List are the bearers of genetic diversity and the building blocks of ecosystems, and information on their conservation status and distribution provides the foundation for making informed decisions about conserving biodiversity from local to global levels.

Just over the past decade, the number of species considered vulnerable, threatened, and critically endangered has risen steadily. According to BBC News, two thousand new species have been assessed for this edition of the Red List, bringing the total to 63,837.

As the graph below demonstrates, approximately 41 percent of all amphibians, 33 percent of reef-forming corals, 31 percent of sharks and rays, and 25 percent of mammals are considered threatened. And as the Red List summary acknowledges, these are just the more comprehensively assessed groups.

CR – Critically Endangered, EN – Endangered, VU – Vulnerable, NT – Near Threatened, DD – Data Deficient, LC – Least Concern

The IUCN Red List alone can’t do anything to change these results, but the researchers behind it hope that its stark realities will motivate world leaders to see the links between conservation and our own survival.

“Sustainability is a matter of life and death for people on the planet,” said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General at IUCN. “A sustainable future cannot be achieved without conserving biological diversity – animal and plant species, their habitats and their genes – not only for nature itself, but also for all 7 billion people who depend on it. The latest IUCN Red List is a clarion call to world leaders gathering in Rio to secure the web of life on this planet.”

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Image via Thinkstock


DaleLovesOttawa O.

Interesting article bringing attention to the increasingly alarming situation which is only getting worse as time goes on.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago


Alicia N.
Alicia N5 years ago

ohhhhh how sad...........

Nimue Pendragon

It's frightening. Petition signed.

Sheri D.
Sheri D5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Ruth R.
Ruth R5 years ago


Kye J.
michelle t5 years ago

This is a real worry.
Petition signed

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M5 years ago

A sustainable future cannot be achieved without conserving biological diversity! Everything connects in the cycle of life.
Thank you for this interesting article Beth.

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

In the web of life, we are weakening it at such a rapid pace, we may not be able to stop the destruction, before it totally collapses.

Prentise W.
pre,tpse w5 years ago

And they're not even considering the thousands of beneficial bacteria that are endangered because of overuse of antibiotics.