A new ‘Green List’ provides road map for species recovery

The gray wolf is not in danger of extinction, but its green list status shows how much more it needs to recover.

Tim Fitzharris/Minden Pictures

A new tool from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will detail the recovery status of threatened and endangered species, The Guardian reports. The conservation organization, which has long highlighted species in peril with its Red List, today announced its Green Status of Species list, which it hopes will catalyze conservation initiatives by highlighting successes and opportunities for future action. IUCN has now assessed 181 species using this new metric, it reports in Conservation Biology.

To determine each species’ green status, more than 200 researchers working under the auspices of IUCN compared the size and range of the current population with what they were in the past. They also assessed the impact of conservation work, how much the species’ survival still depends on human help, and to what extent the species might recover in the future. The assessed animals, plants, and fungi were then assigned a category ranging from “fully recovered” to “extinct in the wild.”

The gray wolf was among the species assessed in the new study. Although it is listed as “least concern” on the Red List, it was assigned a “largely depleted” green status category, illustrating that this once-widespread species has a long way to go before achieving full ecological recovery. On the other hand, the pink pigeon of Mauritius fell to a wild population of just 10 individuals in the early 1990s. Its green status listing of “moderately depleted” points to how successful conservation efforts have been since then, helping raise its numbers to a few hundred. A Eurasian species called the river clubtail dragonfly was dubbed “fully recovered”; it had been threatened in Western Europe by polluted waterways but has bounced back after the European Union instituted new environmental regulations.

“We now have a scientifically rigorous and practical tool for tracking and communicating a species’ journey towards full recovery,” said Richard Young, study co-author and director of conservation knowledge at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, in a statement. “We must aim higher so that wildlife not just survives but thrives.”

source: sciencemag.org