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A New List to Frame Biodiversity Conservation

By David Salt

A new IUCN Red List promises to enlarge the debate on declining biodiversity to include ecosystems.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Declines in biodiversity have largely been debated through a species prism. Species are declining and disappearing. Unfortunately, no government on the planet is prepared to invest anywhere near the amount needed to save all the species in trouble because while people don’t like threatened species going extinct, they also expect our governments to provide hospitals, schools and police forces. At the end of day, conservation is but one of a range of activities supported by the government.

So, many species are in trouble and governments don’t invest enough resources to save them all. Choices have to be made. Which species do we allocate the limited resources to?

Current policy in most places around the world favours expenditure on the most threatened species. No politician wants a species going extinct on their watch. However, a growing number of researchers would like to see available resources achieving the greatest good, and this might not be achieved by only focusing on the most threatened species.

The thing is, the debate is all about species. The status of threatened species, therefore, is a cornerstone to biodiversity conservation. That’s in part because species are “units” that are relatively easy to distinguish and count.

It’s also in part because an international body, the Inter­national Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN),...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.