Measuring the impact of conservation action

29th July 2021

News, Student news

An IUCN Green Status tool, developed by Wadham’s Molly Grace, has identified conservation metrics for some 181 species, outlined in a Conservation Biology paper published this week.

With the IUCN Green Status, we now have a complementary tool that allows us to track species recovery and dramatically improve our understanding of the state of the world’s wildlife. 

Dr Molly Grace

  • Californian Condor, photo by Don Graham via Wikimedia Commons

    Californian Condor, photo by Don Graham via Wikimedia Commons

From California condors to East Asian mangroves, Green Status shows specific conservation metrics for target species.

For the first time, the Conservation Biology paper applies the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green Status of Species, a new Global Standard to measure how close a species is to being fully ecologically functional across its range, and how much it has recovered thanks to conservation action.

The paper presents preliminary IUCN Green Status assessments for 181 species. They range from the pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri), which was saved from extinction by conservation measures, to the grey wolf (Canis lupus), a species on a promising path to recovery of ecological functionality across vast areas of its past distribution – though it is currently far from its historical baseline. More than 200 authors representing 171 institutions contributed to the paper.

Said the paper’s lead author, Dr. Molly Grace, Fellow by Special Election at Wadham and co-Chair of IUCN’s Green Status of Species Working Group: “The IUCN Red List tells us how close a species is to extinction, but is not intended to paint a full picture of its status and functioning within its ecosystem. With the IUCN Green Status, we now have a complementary tool that allows us to track species recovery and dramatically improve our understanding of the state of the world’s wildlife. The IUCN Green Status of Species provides evidence that conservation works, giving cause for optimism and impetus for stronger action.”

The IUCN Green Status of Species will be integrated into the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, which will then provide a fuller picture of species’ conservation status including both their extinction risk and recovery progress.

The IUCN Green Status classifies species into nine Species Recovery Categories, indicating the extent to which species are depleted or recovered compared to their historical population levels. Each Green Status assessment measures the impact of past conservation on a species, a species’ dependence on continuing support, how much a species stands to gain from conservation action within the next ten years, and the potential for it to recover over the next century. 

  • Molly Grace

    Molly Grace

IUCN

IUCN is a membership Union composed of both government and civil society organisations. It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.