Coral Red Listing – IUCN


Coral species and coral reef ecosystems red listing

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Soon to come – registration page to document interest in participating in the red listing processes and joining the IUCN Coral Specialist Group

The Red List of Threatened Species is IUCN’s flagship knowledge product. Developed over 50 years ago it is one of the key indicators used in species conservation worldwide and in reporting on the state of conservation at global levels.

Reef-building (shallow, tropical) corals were first assessed in 2008, where 1/3 of all species were assessed as being under threat, among the highest for any taxa assessed globally. Ten years have passed since that assessment, and with greater focus on the Red List Index, which shows the change in status of assessed taxa over time, a global reassessment of corals is being initiated in 2018.

This regional and global assessment is targeted for completion by 2020 when the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets are due, for which coral reefs are a flagship system in Aichi Target 10 (on climate-sensitive ecosystems), and the Red List is a key indicator for Aichi Target xx (on species protection).

The Red List of Ecosystems has been developed over the last ten years to do for ecosystems what the Red List of Species has done for species protection. It is particularly appropriate for coral reefs, where the immense diversity of corals and other species on a reef, and that corals are the ‘ecosystem engineers’ that build the reef, mean that most conservation actions are ecosystem-focused rather than species-focused.

The Red List of Ecosystems has been applied to coral reef ecosystems during its initial development (focused on the Caribbean) and through scientific assessment (focused on the Meso-American Barrier Reef system in the Central American Caribbean).

This effort will apply the Red List of Ecosystems to major coral reef regions, and compile a global assessment once these are complete.

Both the ecosystem and species assessments will be based on a parallel regional-to-global series of coral reef status assessments by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, being undertaken from 2017-2020. This leverages the compilation of reef data by the GCRMN to make it useful in multiple practical and policy processes to promote coral reef conservation.