One of the world's most prominent conservation organizations is asking governments, NGOs and the private sector to join efforts to curb the loss of biodiversity, pointing to the results of a survey confirming an extinction crisis for almost one in four mammals. The data were unveiled Oct. 6 at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
Speaking on behalf of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, species scientist Simon Stuart said that the meeting was chosen as a platform for announcing the findings because representatives from the public, non-governmental and private sectors were attending. "We are seizing this opportunity to communicate to the governments and to NGOs," he said.
The study was carried out as part of a broader IUCN initiative known as the Red List - a record of endangered species throughout the world which the organization's Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre described as "a health check out of our planet" when addressing an audience of environmental experts and journalist.
"The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to prevent future extinctions," said Jane Smart, the head of IUCN's species program, in a statement. "We now know what species are threatened, what the threats are and where - we have no more excuses to watch from the sidelines."
According to conservation adviser Holly Dublin, the Red List provides all sectors of the society with the information they need in order to act against the loss of biodiversity. "The Red List is for all parts of the society to use: governments, NGOs and people," she said while mentioning a partnership between the World Bank, the IUCN and other environmental organization in a campaign that was to be launched at the forum the next day.
Dublin and her fellow species experts at IUCN said that the habitat degradation and loss resulting from over-harvesting was among the main threats to biodiversity, especially in Central and South America as well as in West, East and Central Africa and South and Southeast Asia. IUCN called for government action in these areas. "Conservation and development really come together," said Simon Stuart, an species scientist.
The IUCN assessment on the world's mammals showed that at least 1,141 species are currently at risk of extinction, while 188 were listed within the highest threat category.