Good News For Species? Really?
If you’re one of those planet-loving people who sighs with despair whenever you hear yet another story about a species in danger, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature feels your pain. The IUCN, which has published its respected Red List of Threatened Species since 1963, recently announced that it will add some good news to its cataloging efforts: a Green List of Well-Managed Protected Areas and a Green List of Species.
"The concept of a green list is that it can throw a spotlight on things that are actually working," Trevor Sandwith, director of IUCN's Global Protected Areas program, told OurAmazingPlanet. “We already have well-managed, protected areas in the world, which no one is recognizing." Sandwith notes that good practices can be implemented anywhere, not just in the First World. One of the program’s first test cases is Colombia’s Parques Nacionales Naturales. “It’s motivating to show where success is occurring, and to show why and how it’s occurring,” says Sandwith. “If someone gets it right, then that’s the model to copy.” The Protected Areas list will be unveiled in 2014, while the Green List of Species is still in the concept stage.
It’s good to fortify ourselves with good news, because our work is cut out for us. Of the 63,837 species the IUCN’s Red List has assessed, 19,817 species are at risk of extinction, including 41 percent of amphibians, 33 percent of reef-building corals, 25 percent of mammals, and 13 percent of birds. While habitat loss is the biggest global threat to species, climate change adds to the danger. And a recent study suggests that current climate models underestimate potential plant and animal extinctions.
Image of Colombia’s Tayrona National Natural Park by iStock/traveler1116.
Reed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”