The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations. IUCN, headquartered in Switzerland, was established on 5 October 1948. As the first global environmental union, it brought together governments and civil society organisations with a shared goal to protect nature. Its aim was to encourage international cooperation and provide scientific knowledge and tools to guide conservation action.
In 1964, IUCN established the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which has since evolved into the world’s most comprehensive data source on the global extinction risk of species.
The IUCN Red List Categories are intended to be an easily and widely understood system for classifying species at high risk of global extinction.
The categories are:
EXTINCT — the last individual in the species has died.
EXTINCT IN THE WILD — it now lives only in captivity and not in its natural habitat.
CRITICALLY ENDANGERED — facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
ENDANGERED — facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
VULNERABLE — facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
NEAR THREATENED — likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.
LEAST CONCERN — it is widespread and abuntant in the wild.
DATA DEFICIENT — inadequate information.
NOT EVALUATED — not yet been evaluated against the criteria.
IUCN and INDIA
India became a State Member of IUCN in 1969, through the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
India, a megadiverse country with only 2.4% of the world’s land area, accounts for 7-8% of all recorded species, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals. The country’s diverse physical features and climatic conditions have resulted in a variety of ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, grasslands, desert, coastal and marine ecosystems which harbour and sustain high biodiversity and contribute to human well-being. Four of 34 globally identified biodiversity hotspots: The Himalayas, the Western Ghats, the North-East, and the Nicobar Islands, can be found in India.