After decades of recording alarming declines in animals and plants, conservation experts have taken a more proactive approach, with a new “Green Status” launched on Saturday, billed as the first global measurement for tracking species recovery.
Since 1964, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed some 138,000 species for its Red List of Threatened Species, a powerful tool to highlight the plight of wildlife facing extinction.
Some 28 percent are currently at risk of vanishing forever.
Its new Green Status will act as a companion to this survival watchlist, looking at the extent to which species are depleted or restored compared to their historical population levels.
The initiative aims “to measure species recoveries in a standardised way, which has never been done before”, Green Status co-chair Molly Grace told a news conference Saturday during the IUCN congress in Marseille.
But it also looks to “incentivise conservation action”, with evaluations of how well past preservation efforts have worked, as well as projections for how effective future ones will be.
It was born of a realisation that “preventing extinction alone is not enough”, said Grace, a professor at the University of Oxford.
Beyond the first step of stopping a species from disappearing entirely, “once it’s out of danger, what does recovery look like?”
Efforts to halt extensive declines in numbers and diversity of animals and plants have largely failed to stop losses in the face of rampant habitat destruction, overexploitation and illegal wildlife trade.
In 2019 the UN’s biodiversity experts warned that a million species were nearing extinction.