Does conservation work? Using the IUCN Red List to evaluate groups’ performance

A recent study published in the journal Biological Conservation demonstrates a new way to evaluate a conservation organization’s work in preventing extinctions by using the IUCN Red List Index (RLI) as a performance indicator.

This study was led by Richard Young, head of conservation science at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and it examined Durrell’s own work as a case study. Durrell is a U.K.-based international non-profit organization that conducts long-term conservation programs to save species from extinction.

The RLI is calculated from data in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, widely considered the most authoritative and objective database on the status of species.

In the Red List of Threatened Species, species are assessed against criteria for geographic range and population size, structure, and trends. They are then assigned to categories of extinction risk: Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild, and Extinct.

In their study, Young and his co-authors examined the fate of 17 species — one amphibian, seven mammals, and nine birds — that Durrell has worked to conserve in five countries. Durrell’s conservation interventions included habitat protection, management, or restoration; invasive alien species management; anti-poaching patrols; reintroduction to the wild; supplemental feeding of target species; nest site management; disease management; collection of eggs or young and captive rearing prior to release into the wild; and captive breeding programs.

One of Biodiversity services is Biodiversity and Ecosystem conservation, planning and management. Learn more about it here.

Learn more about this news here or read the full paper at:

Young, R.P., Hudson, M.A., Terry, A.M.R., Jones, C.G., Lewsi, R.E., Tatayah, V., Zuël, N. & Butchart, S.H.M. (2014). Accounting for conservation: Using the IUCN Red List Index to evaluate the impact of a conservation organization. Biological Conservation. 180: 84–96. Article published by Rebecca Kessler on September 9, 2015.


Carlos Litulo

Biodiversity Technician