While there are many conservation strategies for ecosystems, landscape and habitats, there is ample evidence that the interests of single species, or small groups of species, are not adequately catered for in area-based strategies and plans.

Since the mid-1980's the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) has published more than 60 Action Plans for some of the world’s most charismatic species. These were compiled by many of the Commission’s Specialist Groups that comprise around 7,500 species experts from around the world. These Action Plans represent a significant body of knowledge on the species that they cover, some of which are conservation icons and some of which were rarely considered for conservation priority at the time.

The Species Conservation Planning Sub-Committee (SCPSC) was established in 2010 with a purpose to disseminate the philosophy, methodologies and processes for effective species planning across the SSC Specialist Groups. It also has the aim of establishing a bench mark of good practice for conserving species to cope with the vast diversity of species needing planning and the multitude of conditions under which these species exist.