IUCN's Red List exposes extinction crisis as major threat to human well-being

11/2/2009

Washington, DC - The latest Red List assessment from IUCN showing that species extinctions continue at a shocking pace represents a major threat to the livelihoods and well-being of millions of people, Conservation International said today.

Protection of the ecosystems that support biodiversity is one of the most effective means to fight climate change, and is a key source of income for people across the globe.

"IUCN's Red List is the best set of data available to gauge the status of ecosystem conservation through species," said Claude Gascon, Executive Vice President of Field Programs at Conservation International. "The numbers released today are profoundly worrying as they show that we are racing along an unsustainable development path that threatens the natural systems that sustain all life on the planet."

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species released today shows that 17,291 species out of the 47,677 assessed species, or 36 percent, are threatened with extinction. Two percent of the species assessed are already extinct or are found only in captivity. Amphibians are the most threatened group of animal species known to date with 1,895 of the planet's 6,285 amphibians, or 30 percent, in danger of extinction.

As the world focuses on the fight against climate change, IUCN's assessment underlines the need for governments meeting in Copenhagen to look at the conservation of biodiversity and the ecosystems that sustain it, especially tropical forests, as one of the most effective and quickest means of climate stabilization.

"Any climate agreement coming out of Copenhagen must include a set of policy reforms and financial incentives to compensate efforts to keep forests standing as deforestation is responsible for about 20 percent of the world's annual carbon emissions as well as massive biodiversity loss." said Gascon.

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