The future is looking … green!

The future is looking … green!

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has developed the Green Status of Species in an effort to measure the impact of conservation action and how close threatened species are to being ecologically functional. This tool complements the IUCN’s Red List created in 1964 to assess the status of threatened species and their risk of global extinction. While the Red List has been extremely insightful by providing a greater understanding of the state of the world’s animal kingdom, the Green Status will help tell a more complete story by providing new metrics that show species recovery and the impact conservation measures have had on populations.

The IUCN Green Status classifies species into nine Species Recovery Categories, shedding light on which species are continuing to decline or have recovered compared to their historical populations. Each Green Status assessment measures the impact of past conservation methods on a species, the species’ dependence on continued support and how it will benefit from conservation action within the next 10 years. Additionally, the assessments address species’ potential for recovery over the next century.

More than 200 authors representing 171 institutions came together to assess 181 species in this new Green Status of Species format. The outcome is summarized in the journal “Conservation Biology,” and the Fort Worth Zoo’s very own, Dr. Stesha Pasachnik, is one of the contributing authors. Dr. Pasachnik has worked to ensure the long-term survival of many threatened iguana species, including the critically endangered Jamaican rock iguana. This species was assessed in the journal article and was highlighted in an interactive exploratory framework at the IUCN World Congress in August, where attendees explored the assessment metrics. Dr. Pasachnik currently serves as co-chair in the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Iguana Specialist Group. The SSC consists of conservationists from 174 countries and is the largest of six expert commissions of IUCN. The SSC creates opportunities in communities across the globe by connecting and assisting to conserve local biodiversity. Members of this commission provide knowledge of threats to species, develop policies and guidelines, facilitate conservation planning and then put it all to action. These messages of hope and success will continue to grow as the scope of Green Status assessments is broadened to include additional species.

Dr. John Paul Rodriguez, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, says, “As the world’s first standardized method for assessing species’ potential for and progress toward such a recovery, the IUCN Green Status will help inform conservation plans and steer action to meet national and international goals for 2030 and beyond. It also provides a metric for quantifying and celebrating conservation success.”

Here’s to greener days ahead!

Click here to learn more about this research.