Monday, 15 December 2014

The origin of the IUCN Red List lies in a collection of ring binders

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) has revealed how the global system for classifying endangered species, which forms the basis for modern conservation, began with a set of ring binders and their loose-leaf sheets.

Fifty years ago there was no way to collate data from research or anecdotes from around the world to assess which species were truly endangered.

Sir Peter Scott, founder of the WWT and one of the original members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was very concerned about what was happening in the world of wildlife.

Data was scarce and communication was slower, making it hard for early conservationists to contact others in the scientific community and share results.

As an ex-military man with a logical mind, Scott believed that categorising species and their status was a good place to start.

He kept these notes on hand-written, loose-leaf sheets in a ring binder and called them the Red Data books.

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