Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 1001–1012

Application of the IUCN Red Listing system to setting species targets for conservation planning purposes

  • Michèle F. Pfab
  • Janine E. Victor
  • Adrian J. Armstrong
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10531-011-0009-0

Cite this article as:
Pfab, M.F., Victor, J.E. & Armstrong, A.J. Biodivers Conserv (2011) 20: 1001. doi:10.1007/s10531-011-0009-0


Biodiversity targets, or estimates of the quantities of biodiversity features that should be conserved in a region, are fundamental to systematic conservation planning. We propose that targets for species should be based on the quantitative thresholds developed for the Vulnerable category of the IUCN Red List system, thereby avoiding future listings of species in an IUCN Red List threat category or an increase in the extinction risk, or ultimate extinction, of species already listed as threatened. Examples of this approach are presented for case studies from South Africa, including threatened taxa listed under the IUCN Red List criteria of A to D, a species listed as Near Threatened, a species of conservation concern due to its rarity, and one species in need of recovery. The method gives rise to multiple representation targets, an improvement on the often used single representation targets that are inadequate for long term maintenance of biodiversity or the arbitrary multiple representation and percentage targets that are sometimes adopted. Through the implementation of the resulting conservation plan, these targets will ensure that the conservation status of threatened species do not worsen over time by qualifying for higher categories of threat and may actually improve their conservation status by eliminating the threat of habitat loss and stabilizing population declines. The positive attributes ascribed to the IUCN Red List system, and therefore to the species targets arising from this approach, are important when justifying decisions that limit land uses known to be detrimental to biodiversity.


Biodiversity targets Bioregional plans Conservation targets Land-use planning Multiple representation Systematic Threatened species 



Critically Endangered






Near Threatened


Least Concern

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michèle F. Pfab
    • 1
  • Janine E. Victor
    • 1
  • Adrian J. Armstrong
    • 2
  1. 1.South African National Biodiversity InstitutePretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Ezemvelo KZN WildlifeCascadesSouth Africa

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