869 species extinct, 17,000 threatened with extinction

mongabay.com
July 02, 2009





Nearly 17,000 plant and animal species are known to be threatened with extinction, while more than 800 have disappeared over the past 500 years, reports the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The group warns that governments will miss their 2010 target for reducing biodiversity loss.

"When governments take action to reduce biodiversity loss there are some conservation successes, but we are still a long way from reversing the trend," says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Head of IUCN's Species Program and senior editor of Wildlife in a Changing World, a report based on analysis of the 44,838 species on the IUCN Red List.






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"It's time to recognize that nature is the largest company on Earth working for the benefit of 100 percent of humankind – and it's doing it for free. Governments should put as much effort, if not more, into saving nature as they do into saving economic and financial sectors."

The report shows that 869 species are "Extinct" or "Extinct the Wild" (rising to 1,159 if the 290 "Critically Endangered" species listed as "Possibly Extinct" are included) and at least 16,928 species are threatened with extinction. While these numbers are substantial, they are likely "gross" underestimates since only 2.7 percent of 1.8 million described species have been assessed. Scientists estimate there are 10-100 million species on Earth.

The report found some plant and animal groups to be particularly vulnerable. One third of amphibians, nearly a quarter of mammals, 27 percent of reef-building corals, 17 percent of sharks and rays, 29 percent of conifers, and 52 percent of cycads are threatened with extinction.

"The report makes for depressing reading," says Craig Hilton Taylor, Manager of the IUCN Red List Unit and co-editor. "It tells us that the extinction crisis is as bad, or even worse, than we believed. But it also shows the trends these species are following and is therefore an essential part of decision-making processes. In the run-up to 2010, the global community should use this report wisely to address the situation."

The report notes that the proportion of species at risk is expected to rise with as the planet warms. Land use change due to human development will interfere with migration to safer elevations and latitudes.

Wildlife in a Changing World (PDF)





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CITATION:
mongabay.com (July 02, 2009).

869 species extinct, 17,000 threatened with extinction.

http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0702-iucn.html