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Red Listing the world’s trees

Posted on by Kirsty Shaw
The IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group is working towards developing a Global Tree Conservation Assessment by 2020 – an up-to-date assessment of the conservation status of the world’s tree species. In this blog post we provide an update of the latest additions to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and welcome a new recruit to our team to help us work towards this ambitious aim.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Today a series of new assessments were published to the Red List, which now includes 73,686 assessed species, of which 22,103 are threatened with extinction.

This includes assessments of 9,749 trees, 6,581 of which are threatened with extinction. The threatened status of these trees is a result of multiple factors and threats, highlighting the need for a species-specific approach to conservation, as adopted and advocated by the Global Trees Campaign.

The latest update of the IUCN Red List includes the publication of the majority (146) of the Magnolia species assessed in the Global Trees Campaign publication The Red List of Magnoliaceae. This increases the total number of Magnolia species on the IUCN Red List to 176, of which 83 are threatened with extinction. Publication of these assessments to the IUCN Red List highlights the threatened status of these species to a wider audience and provides a stronger case for their conservation.

Magnolia aromatica. Assessed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Threatened due to over-exploitation of its timber.

Magnolia aromatica. Assessed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Threatened due to over-exploitation of its timber.

The vast majority of the world’s tree species still have not been assessed using IUCN categories and criteria. The IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group (GTSG) is a global network of experts who contribute to undertaking conservation assessments of tree species. The GTSG aims to assess all species by 2020. In order to help us meet this ambitious goal, BGCI, a lead Global Trees Campaign partner, has appointed a new Red List Manager to coordinate all Red Listing activities at BGCI.

Dr. Malin Rivers has 10 years experience working in the field of plant conservation. Her PhD research, undertaken in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the University of St. Andrews, involved carrying out Red List assessments of Malagasy Delonix species, many of which have also been published to the IUCN Red List today, including Delonix pumila, an Endangered leguminous tree from Southwestern Madagascar.

Delonix pumila. Assessed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Delonix pumila. Assessed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Later this year, the Global Trees Campaign will release two new Red Lists publications: The Red List of Betulaceae and The Red List of Andean Cloud Forest Trees. This will bring us further towards our target of producing up-to-date conservation assessments of all tree species.

In her new role, Malin will be busy reviewing assessments to be included in these upcoming publications. She will also support production of a Red List of Theaceae, selected fruit trees and other important tree groups, including supporting a PhD project led by Bournemouth University to Red List the world’s timber trees. Malin will also act as Secretary of the GTSG.

Look out for blog articles from Malin soon…..

Written by Kirsty Shaw

Kirsty is a Head of Ecological Restoration and Tree Conservation at Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), working on the Global Trees Campaign and botanic garden led forest restoration initiatives in Africa.

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