Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature

Conserving Nature Through Positive Action

Visit the IUCN SSC
What is the Species Survival Commission?

A Network

The Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a science-based network of more than 10,500 of volunteer experts from almost every country in the world, all working together towards achieving the vision of “a just world that values and conserves nature through positive action to both prevent the loss and aid recovery of diversity of life on Earth.”

Working in close association with the IUCN’s Secretariat, SSC’s major role is to provide information on biodiversity conservation, the inherent value of species, their role in ecosystem health and functioning, the provision of ecosystem services, and their support to human livelihoods. This information supports The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is shared widely on social media, scientific publications and popular articles.

SSC members provide scientific advice to conservation organizations, government agencies and IUCN Members, and support the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements.

The Policies, Guidelines & Standards produced by the IUCN SSC provide guidance to conservation projects and initiatives, such as re-introducing species into their native ranges, handling confiscated specimens, and halting the spread of invasive species.

What is the Red List of Threatened Species?
A Tool

Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk of animal, fungus and plant species.

The IUCN Red List is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity. Far more than a list of species and their status, it is a powerful tool to inform and catalyze action for biodiversity conservation and policy change, critical to protecting the natural resources we need to survive. It provides information about range, population size, habitat and ecology, use and/or trade, threats, and conservation actions that will help inform necessary conservation decisions.

The IUCN Red List is used by government agencies, wildlife departments, conservation-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs), natural resource planners, educational organizations, students, and the business community. The Red List process has become a massive enterprise involving the IUCN Global Species Programme staff, partner organizations and experts in the IUCN Species Survival Commission and partner networks who compile the species information to make The IUCN Red List the indispensable product it is today.

Currently, there are more than 142,500 species on The IUCN Red List, with more than 40,000 species threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 37% of sharks and rays, 34% of conifers, 33% of reef building corals, 26% of mammals and 13% of birds.

Green Status
The Evolution of Red Listing

Warnings of imminent extinctions are not the only way to catalyze conservation efforts. We also need an optimistic vision of species conservation that presents a road map on how to conserve a species and achieve its recovery.

Developed in response to the IUCN Member’s Assembly, the IUCN Green Status of Species complements the Red List by providing a tool for assessing the recovery of species’ populations and measuring their conservation success.

The Green Status assesses species against three essential facets of recovery:

  1. A species is fully recovered if it is present in all parts of its range, even those that are no longer occupied but were occupied prior to major human impacts/disruption; and
  2. It is viable in all parts of the range; and
  3. It is performing its ecological functions in all parts of the range.

These factors contribute towards a “Green Score” ranging from 0%-100% which shows how far a species is from its “fully recovered” state.

Green Status
Specialist Groups

10,500 Volunteer Experts Working Together

Bundled in more than 160 Specialist Groups, Task Forces and Conservation Committees working around the world, the IUCN Species Survival Commission network addresses conservation issues related to groups of animals, fungi and plants. Additionally, some groups focus on cross-curring issues such as conservation planning, species reintroduction, climate change, wildlife health, species monitoring and sustainable use and trade.

SSC Groups follow the IUCN Species Conservation Cycle, which has five components — three that are consecutive and two that are transversal.

Species Conservation Cycle
  • 1. Assess

    Focus on monitoring species and informing the world about the status and trends of biodiversity, thus providing measures for the health of our biosphere.

  • 2. Plan

    Aims to enhance collaborative, inclusive and science-based strategies, including policy change, to ensure the most effective species conservation actions.

  • 3. Act

    Improve the status of biodiversity by convening and mobilizing actions involving governments, academia, civil society and the private sector.

  • 4. Network

    Enhances and supports the SSC network to further significant outcomes across the species conservation cycle.

  • 5. Communicate

    The effectiveness of IUCN’s species conservation work is enhanced through strategic and targeted communications.

Reverse the Red
A Global Movement

Reverse the Red is a global movement that ignites strategic cooperation and action to ensure the survival of wild species and ecosystems. Data-driven and collaborative, Reverse the Red provides tools and partnerships to unite stakeholders and catalyze conservation impact.

Committed to Assess–Plan–Act, the ultimate goal of Reverse the Red is becoming the first generation to stop biodiversity decline. It brings together government agencies, academia, NGOs, zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens. The Indianapolis Zoo is proud to partner with Reverse the Red and contribute to its success through the Global Center for Species Survival.