Herramienta de conservación

IUCN Red List of Ecosystems

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems is a tool to assess the conservation status of ecosystems. It is based on scientific criteria for performing evidence-based analyses of the risk of ecosystem collapse, including changes in geographical distribution and the degradation of the key elements of ecosystems.



4000 +



50 +


countries fully assessed

100 +


countries using the tool

In brief

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems measures the relative risks of ecosystem collapse for terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems at subnational, national, regional and global scales.

Information provided 

The tool provides the information below for every ecosystem assessed:

  • Ecosystem description with information on unique biodiversity  ("native biota"), non-living characteristics, such as geology ("abiotic environment"), key processes, spatial distribution, and the relation with the IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology
  • Ecosystem diagnosis, based on a model describing the functioning of ecosystems, how major threats affect ecosystem sustainability and how risks were assessed

  • Ecosystem status which is assigned depending on the risks identified within each criterion and the overall risk of ecosystem collapse, summarised by the IUCN risk category.

  • Assessment data, which includes spatial data, time series data, metadata used to assess the criteria for each ecosystem type

Red List of Ecosystems as a Global Indicator 

Red List of Ecosystems as a Headline Indicator in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework:

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted by parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, establishing the agenda for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. This framework sets four primary goals for 2050 and 23 action targets.  For the first time, a monitoring framework was adopted to ensure continuous progress review, featuring headline, component, and complementary indicators. The Red List of Ecosystems, using the Red List Index for Ecosystems, is a headline indicator for Goal A and Target 1, and also supports Targets 2, 3, and 7.  

While the Red List of Ecosystems has seen rapid uptake across the world over the last decade with full assessments for over 60 countries/territories and over 4000 ecosystems assessed, this inclusion signifies a major step forward. This will result in an expanded and accelerated implementation of the Red List of Ecosystems in each country and globally, to support the monitoring framework, planning and implementation world-wide. 

The IUCN risk categories

In descending order of threat, the eight IUCN Red List of Ecosystems risk categories are: Collapse (CO),Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (NE), Least Concern (LC), Data Deficient (DD) and Not Evaluated (NE):

  • (CO): ecosystems collapsed throughout the assessed distribution
  • (CR), (EN), (VU):  ecosystems facing collapse
  • (NE): ecosystems close to the threatened threshold or threatened without ongoing conservation measures in the future
  • (LC): ecosystems evaluated as at low risk of collapse
  • (DD):  ecosystems for which too few data exist 
  • (NE): ecosystems that have not yet been assessed


Users and benefits

Main users

Assessments are usually carried out by:

  • Local and national governments
  • Conservation practitioners
  • Academic institutions

Assessments can be useful for a variety of other stakeholders too, such as land use planners and advocates, policymakers, donor agencies and programme developers as well as businesses, companies and investors.

Main applications

The Red List of Ecosystems has many applications, including to assess and highlight risks to ecosystems, guide national and international conservation strategies, prioritise and monitor restoration action, inform land use planning, inform laws and regulations, provide recommendations on how to manage industries, raise public awareness or report on multilateral agreements.

 Learn more about RLE application 

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Success stories
The marine habitat of Tammisaari Archipelago National Park on Finland’s southern coast has been surveyd in the national underwater biodiversity programme Velmu

Measuring progress (Finland) Opens in the same window Opens in the new window

The Red List of Ecosystems has served measuring progress towards global targets in Finland, Myanmar, Colombia  and South Africa

Parque Cerro Castillo / Chile

Planning restoration (Chile) Opens in the same window Opens in the new window

After the fires in 2017, the Red List of Ecosystems has served planning ecosystem restoration in Chile.The guidelines on the use of Red list of ecosystems for Ecosystem restoration provided methodology for future restoration applications.

Featured resources

The RLE partnership

The Red List of Ecosystems is delivered by partners. Founding partners include: The University of New South Wales, Deakin University, Arizona State University, Provita, Wildlife Conservation Society, Coastal Oceans Research and Development, Conservation International (Colombia), and IUCN.

IUCN’s involvement

Two IUCN bodies have supported the partnership since the inception of the Red List of Ecosystems in 2008 and the launch of the platform in 2014: the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) and the Global Ecosystem Management Programme, now part of  IUCN's science and data Centre.

The role of the IUCN Congress

In 2014 IUCN adopted the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria as the global standard for assessing the status of ecosystems, following two resolutions from IUCN Members.

In 2021, the IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology completed the standard, following a 2020 resolution.

Definition of categories

In its 2008 resolution, IUCN Members asked for quantitative thresholds for categories and criteria of threatened ecosystems.

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Consolidation of the RLE

In 2021, IUCN Members asked for the consolidation of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems.

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The Global Ecosystem Typology

In 2020, IUCN Members approved a resolution to support the RLE partnership and the new IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology.

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Online courses

The RLE partnership benefits from a vibrant learning community and proposes courses for beginners and advanced users: 


Getting started

Ecosystem assessments are usually carried out with the support of academic institutions or technical specialists.

RLE partner video

Learn about RLE's impacts on the ground