Role of IUCN & CITES in Conservation

Instructor: Fawn Goodberry

Fawn has taught as a brain training instructor with the Learning Rx. In graduate school served as a teaching assistant for Introduction to Evolution and Ecology and Population Genetics. She received her masters degree in biology in 2013.

Some resources, especially those of the natural world do not last forever if used unsustainably. These plants and animals can be connected globally. To be successful in protecting them, regulations need to span countries across the world. In order to accomplish these conservation goals the IUCN and CITES were established. Lets look in further detail at these agencies and there roles in global conservation efforts.

Many of us know how important it is to conserve plants and animals. They are great economic and ecological resources, but are finite and once gone cannot be restored. Plants and animals do not have borders, they don't know what area code they live in, they just live naturally. Cooperation from all over the world is needed to effectively protect organisms. The IUCN and CITES are global partnerships that bring countries together in a common goal, to protect species and ensure biodiversity.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN):

  • Established on 5 October 1948, in Fontainebleau, France.
  • The initiative to set up this organization came from the British biologist Julian Huxley, who was involved in a earlier organization with similar goals.
  • Mission is to influence, encourage and assist global societies to conserve nature. To ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.
  • The IUCN has recently broadened its projects from working on conservation ecology to now working on sustainable development as well.
  • The IUCN has members from government and non-government agencies, scientists and experts who work on a voluntary basis and thousands of full time employees in over 50 countries. Headquarters are located in Gland, Switzerland.
  • The IUCN is best known for it's IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:

  • Was founded in 1964 and is the worlds most comprehensive list of global conservation status for plants and animals.

*Goals of the red list:

  • Providing scientifically based information on the status of species and subspecies at a global level.
  • Gaining attention for the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity. Biodiversity: The diversity within species, between species and between ecosystems. High biodiversity is healthy for ecosystems.
  • Influence national and international policy and decision-making. By stating the status of species and diversity this allows for agencies to have better focus on where efforts are needed most.
  • Providing information to guide actions to conserve biological diversity.
  • The IUCN aims to have species evaluated or re-evaluated every 5 years or at least every 10 years. This is done in a peer reviewed manner.

IUCN Success Story: Seychelles Warbler

In 1968 Cousin Island in the Seychelles was purchased by BirdLife International, (a partner of IUCN) to save the remaining Seychelles Warblers from extinction. Forty years later the coconut plantation that once was is now an important habitat for many species. The warbler population has increased by 300% and the island is now a profitable nature reserve. In addition to saving the population of warblers the areas is one of the most significant nesting sites for Hawksbill sea turtles, supports over 300,000 nesting seabirds and homes 11 endemic bird species!

Warbler, much like the one found in the Seychelles

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

  • Also known as the Washington Treaty.
  • Drafted in 1963 and finally put into action on July 1st, 1975. The treaty aims to ensure that the international trade of plants and animals does not threaten the survival of the species in its natural habitat.
  • One of the oldest conservation and sustainable use agreements in existence. Participation is voluntary, countries that have agreed to be bound by the convention are known as parties.
  • CITES is legally binding to the parties, however it does not take place of existing laws. Rather, it provides a framework for parties to implement laws at the national level.
  • Originally CITES addressed the issue of depletion of animals due to the demand for luxury furs. Currently CITES focused widened to include, ivory products, shark fins, rhinoceros horns and even animals thought to be of no concern such as the pangolin and manta rays.
  • Species under protection are listed under three appendices.

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