Assessing ecosystems

Assessing ecosystems is essential component of priority setting, action and monitoring, and helps to understand ecosystem trends, showcase its importance to society, and prioritize action.

Indeed, ecosystems are critically important components of Earth’s biological diversity and as the natural capital that sustains human life and livelihoods. Ecosystem degradation has consequences for species habitat, genetic diversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and human well-being.

IUCN's contribution


Risk assessments

have been completed and are accessible on the website of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems


Ecosystem Functional Groups

help classify Earth’s ecosystems and provide a comprehensive framework for assessments in order to identify most critical conservation needs.


Ways to assess ecosystems

The science of assessing ecosystems has evolved to provide accurate analysis and we can differentiate two different ecosystem assessments: ecosystem accounting and ecosystem risk assessment.

Ecosystem accounting

This assessment measures ecosystem stock and flows of services. Different methodologies exist, but the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), an ongoing initiative by the United Nations, remains the most accepted framework.

Ecosystem Risk

This assessment measures the risk of ecosystem collapse by evaluating trends in extent, condition, and likelihood of collapse. The IUCN Red list of Ecosystems is the reference framework for assessing risk of collapse.

Policy work

Mainstreaming ecosystems' assessments

IUCN Members and partners gathered in Marseille to discuss best ways to mainstream ecosystems accounting and risk management.

Read about the Congress session read more

Strengthening ecosystem typology

In the IUCN Congress 2020 in Marseille, IUCN Members voted for the reinforcement of partnerships and further development of a Global Ecosystem Typology.

IUCN resolution 61, Marseille read more
Finland Publishes the Most Comprehensive Red List of Ecosystems in the World

The results of the extensive assessment for the Red List of all of Finland’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems were published in December 2018. The threat status of ecosystem or habitat types in Finland was now evaluated for the second time,…