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Home arrow Environment arrow Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World

Downsides of Species Listing

Although well intentioned, adoption of global endangered species lists may in some cases be detrimental to more localized protection and conservation efforts. Many countries, and some subnational units, have simply adopted the IUCN Red List of species into their legislation. This practice can be inappropriate, as is recognized by IUCN itself. The criteria used in the IUCN list are specifically designed to identify the species that are most endangered at a global level, not within a region, nation, or specific locality. Consequently, the IUCN has issued “Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels” (IUCN 2012) to aid in the application of IUCN principles to more regional surveys. National governments that adopt IUCN listings in their entirety typically do not conduct their own taxonomic and systematic assessment of the species and population status of species that reproduce in or regularly visit the region within their borders. The IUCN advises using the globally derived Red List to set regional conservation priorities under only two conditions: (1) when there are a high number of endemics or threatened near endemics in the region, and (2) when there are little to no data concerning the species within a region. In all other situations, the IUCN advises following IUCN guidelines to assess extinction risk at the geographic scale of interest (local, national, and regional) and publishing Red Lists at this scale. Full compliance with the guidelines allows the country or region to state that their regional Red List follows the IUCN system.

Application of global lists at the local level may miss some species that need local protection. Alternatively, negative conservation outcomes may result if local values are compromised as a result of uncritical national protection of IUCN-listed species. For example, if the presence of a protected species impedes economic development, landowners in a region may destroy the species' habitat or deny the existence of that species to avoid local legal consequences stemming from its IUCN listing (Possingham et al. 2002). Planners and legislators need to appreciate that there are many dimensions to threat and protection and provide landowners and other stakeholders with incentives to protect endangered species.

 
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