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After the adoption of resolution 4.020 at the IUCN World Conservation Congress held in Barcelona, Spain, in 2008, a worldwide process for developing, implementing and testing of global standards for the assessment of ecosystem status was officially initiated. To accomplish this, a wide group of experts from the fields of ecology, macroecology, conservation biology, evolution and statistics were convened. Building on pioneering studies on the topic, a working group was established to develop a first version of the categories and criteria for assessing ecosystem risk (Rodríguez et al. 2011).

In 2009, the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) created the Red List of Ecosystems Thematic Group, thus providing a home to the ad hoc working group, while the MAVA Foundation pour la Nature provided generous support directed towards the promotion, consultation and discussion of the first version of the RLE categories and criteria. This effort was strengthened through the official adoption of version 2 of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria (Keith et al. 2013) as a global standard for assessing the conservation status of the world´s ecosystems.

The promotion, discussion, testing and further development of the RLE protocol is still ongoing with the support of MAVA and many other institutions that believe in this initiative. This process included the launch of the first RLE website at the V IUCN World Conservation Congress held in Jeju, Korea, in 2012, which had received over 122,000 hits from 193 countries by the end of 2015, as well as approximately 100 RLE related events organized in 44 cities from 24 countries all over the world:


Copyright Basemap: © 2013 ESRI, i-cubed, GeoEye


These events have focused on:  

  • Further developing the scientific foundations and implementation of the RLE protocol
  • Increasing public awareness around it
  • Building capacities to facilitate the implementation of the protocol at the sub-national, national and regional levels
  • Disseminating and discussing the results from the assessments completed so far, as well as the challenges and opportunities for the further implementation of the protocol


In addition, more than 40 RLE related peer-reviewed articles have been published in scientific journals over the last few years, and Version 1 of the RLE Guidelines was published in 2016 (Bland et al. 2015) to guide assessors on how to apply the methodology. These guidelines were informed by the training courses and workshops that have been conducted so far.

Please visit our Resources section for more information on our publications and outreach materials. 


IUCN Red List of Ecosystems


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