RED LISTING PROCESS
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species and their links to livelihoods. Particularly, its scientifically rigorous approach to determine risks of extinction has become a world standard. Looking back at 50 years since its implementation in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ has been successfully established as a powerful conservation tool and has achieved its goal of providing information and analyses on the status, trends and threats to species. The assessment process of ‘Updating Species Red List of Bangladesh’ took more than two and a half years. During the process, members of the IUCN Global Species Programme, Red List Unit based in Cambridge-UK, the IUCN Species Survival Commission, technical team members of the Red List unit of IUCN Bangladesh, Bangladesh Forest Department officials, officials from the Department of Fisheries, faculties of the universities, scientists of the research institutes, as well as conservationists, species specialists, nature lovers, and partner organizations and other governmental agencies worked closely to ensure most accurate information and analysis of the most current status, trends and threats to wildlife species in Bangladesh. For this purpose, an inter-ministerial committee named ‘National Committee for Updating Species Red List of Bangladesh (NC-USR)’ was formed to ensure highest level collaboration among involved organizations, and sustainability of the outcome of the assessment at the policy level. Seven Red List Assessor Groups (RAGs) at project level led by renown species specialists have been formed to coordinate the assessment process engaging species specialists/assessors. In this course of assessment of the species strategies adapted to reduce knowledge gaps, influence national conservation, and build national capacity. A total of 1619 species status under seven groups of wildlife (Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, Freshwater Fishes, Crustaceans and Butterflies) have been assessed. Moreover, 160 assessors were trained on the latest Red List assessment guideline (ver 3.1) engaging certified red list trainers from IUCN Red List Unit, Cambridge, UK. A vigorous work process was applied to finish the assessment within the given timeframe ensuring highest quality, using latest species information and sharing through wider dissemination among expert groups. An interactive website (www.iucnredlistbd.org) was also published to ensure participation of all stakeholders in the assessment process as well as collecting public opinion on the draft assessment.
Assessment was started in July, 2014 and stopped in November, 2015, while the project duration was from December, 2013 to August, 2016.
2.1. Red List Assessment: from Field to Publication Categorization of Red List and criteria set up following latest Red List guideline, managing and storing the documents supporting the category and criteria of a species, and a map of species’ distribution are the components of the Red List assessment. Before an assessment can be published on the Red List, it goes through a rigorous approval process, which is one of the reasons that Red List is respected and valued for informing conservation decisions. This process differed slightly depending on the assessor’s expertise but the basic process involved was: First, an individual assessor was assigned to assess one species or multiple species based on his/her expertise. The convening experts assessed and compiled the data for all the species that were assigned through the project. This information often comes from published books, articles, reports and research findings but information from the grey literatures (unpublished material) and scientists’ years of experience and observations were also used. Experts then examined the data and assigned a Red List category, and criteria for the species (often working with trained project staff). They also demarcated a range map and provided supporting documentations that justify the assessment. These draft assessments were then reviewed in three steps to check and make sure that all relevant data have included in the assessment, and the assessment was done using the most appropriate available data. Lead assessors of the respective animal groups were the first reviewers to provide comments and suggestions on the initial assessment by the assessors. The assessors then had to share their findings in a monthly review workshop participated by different wildlife specialists incorporating lead assessors comments. If there were any problems, it was returned to the assessors with an explanation of further improvement. After the further improvement, if everything was in place, the reviewers approve the assessment and let the assessor know it was ready for submission. The assessor then checked all the assessments for consistency, proofreading and formatting before submitting to the IUCN Red List Project Unit. The Red List Project Unit scanned the assessments for obvious errors and quality was checked through engaging independent technical reviewers. If there were problems, the assessment further returned to the assessor for improvement. Lead assessors worked with the technical reviewers following
a multi-step review process before sending the assessments for final approval by the Chief National Technical Expert (CNTE). Lead assessors meeting was held at regular interval to monitor progress of the assessment. The project also organized field investigations using sophisticated wildlife survey techniques and tools to collect missing data and information that required to make conclusive assessment of some important species. In addition, surveys were carried out in different museums owned by academic and research institutions of the country to know more about the historic information of different species. Besides, to enhance exposure of the draft assessment, number of dissemination events were organized in collaboration of different organizations throughout the project period in all over the country. Finally, if the assessments were accepted by CNTE, they were properly documented. All the assessment sheets including species photographs, distribution maps and others necessary documents were also recorded in a computer based database- finally published on the Red List website (www.iucnredlistbd.org) and Red List books containing seven volumes.
2.2. Red List Assessment Tools
All the assessors were trained on latest assessment guideline and its application at the local level context. Two major tools applied during the assessment process were respectively ‘IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria Version 3.1 (IUCN 2012)’ and ‘Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels Version 4.0 (IUCN 2012)’ prepared by IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). Both of these tools are available online (www.iucnredlist.org and www.iucnredlistbd.org). A species assessment sheet designed purposefully by the IUCN Red List Unit was used for assessing an individual taxon. A wide range of information were required for the assessment of species. These included, among others, species taxonomic classification and synonyms, assessment history- global and regional, global and local distribution ranges, population size and trend, Extent of Occurrence (EOO), Area of Occupancy (AOO), habitat preferences and habits, major threats and conservation measures in practice, etc. GIS software was used to estimate AOO and EOO to assess the distribution of the taxon plotting on a 2 km² grid map of Bangladesh. The geographic range of present assessment included all the areas within the political boundary of Bangladesh, including coastal territorial waters. It included rivers, flat lands areas, reservoirs, hilly areas, mangrove areas and the estuaries. However, the assessment process sometimes considered the distributional ranges of some species in its catchment areas beyond political boundary, particularly estimating EOO, in that case, a dot line was used on the map for that particular species. All species have given a Species Identification Number i.e. SID for the first time in Bangladesh, which will ensure a systematic national web-based Red List database that was synchronized with the published books. Species photographs and distribution maps were also aligned with this SID. Moreover, the assessment process also generated a large number of data sheets containing relevant and required information at various stages of the assessment. In addition, large quantity of resource materials related to training, workshops, published and grey literatures on species were collected. All these information and materials have been electronically preserved in a purposefully designed database system in the IUCN Bangladesh Country Office to be managed in the future by the IUCN itself or the Bangladesh Forest Department. This would be used as a depository of resources and could be inspected and used by stakeholders.
2.3. Red List Assessment Guideline (version 3.1)
2.3.1. Taxonomic Range of the Assessment
Regional Red List assessment initiatives are always encouraged to follow the same taxonomic checklists as used by the global IUCN Red List (See www.iucnredlist.org/technical-documents/information source and- quality). For other taxonomic groups or any deviations from the recommended list, the differences and the taxonomic authorities followed should be specified. The categorization process should be applied only to wild populations inside their natural range and to populations resulting from benign introductions (IUCN 1998, 2001, 2012). All taxa should be assessed for which an important part of any stage of their life cycle (breeding, wintering, migrating, etc.) takes place in the region. The regional Red List should include all globally red listed taxa present within the region, including those that are Not Applicable (NA) at the regional level, and the global category should not be displayed alongside the regional assessment. Taxa formerly considered Regionally Extinct (RE) that naturally re-colonize the region may be assessed after the first year of reproduction. Re-introduced, formerly RE taxa may be assessed as soon as at least a part of the population successfully reproduces without direct support and the offspring are shown to be viable. Assessors are encouraged to assess visiting taxa. Vagrant taxa should NOT be assessed. All mammalian species those are listed elsewhere (Khan 1981, 2008, 2015, IUCN Bangladesh 2000) are re-assessed during the Red List process in 2015 and the species which have no confirmed record (at least having confirmed sight or photograph/video/specimen etc.) are deleted from the list. Some species of mammals are deleted from the previous list and several species are included in the present mammalian species of the country. In general we followed Wilson and Reeder (2005) for mammalian taxonomy and classification for the present Red List evaluation.
The information in this section is intended to direct and facilitate the use and interpretation of the categories, criteria and sub criteria. The criteria applied to any taxonomic unit at or below species level. In this document, the term ‘taxon’ is used for convenience, and may represent species or lower taxonomic levels. The Red List Categories considered were as set out in IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria Version 3.1. There are nine categories at global scale, ranging from Least Concern (LC) for species that are not threatened, to the Extinct (EX) Category, for species that have disappeared from the earth. The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria were designed for global taxon assessments. Hence, applying them to subsets of global data, especially at regional, national or local levels needs to refer to the guidelines prepared by the IUCN/SSC Regional Applications Working Group and the National Red List Working Group of the IUCN SSC Red List Committee (e.g. Gardenfors et. al. 2001; IUCN 2003, 2012). All the rules and definitions in the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1 (IUCN 2001, 2012) apply at regional levels, unless otherwise indicated in the above regional guideline.
When applied at national or regional levels it must be recognized that a global category may not be the same as a national or regional category for a particular taxon. For example, taxa classified as Least Concern globally might be Critically Endangered within a particular region where numbers are very small or declining, perhaps only because they are at the margins of their global range. Conversely, taxa classified as Vulnerable on the basis of their global declines in numbers or range might be Least Concern within a particular region where their population are stable. Similar results were found in the cases of current assessment, many species assessment results differed from their category assessed at the global level. It is also important to note that taxa endemic to regions or nations will be assessed globally in any regional or national applications of the criteria, and in these cases great care must be taken to check that an assessment has not already been undertaken by a Red List Authority (RLA), and that the categorization is agreed with relevant RLA. In Bangladesh, during this assessment process, no such endemic species were assessed that needed to be considered for above steps. However, following the regional assessment guideline two more categories were applied (IUCN, 2012), Regionally Extinct (RE) for those species extinct locally but still exist elsewhere and Not Applicable (NA) for species those are not native to the region or country concerned. All taxa listed as Critically Endangered qualify for Vulnerable and Endangered, and all listed as Endangered qualify for Vulnerable. Together these categories are described as ‘threatened’. The threatened categories form a part of the overall scheme.
Figure: Red List Categories (Regional/National Level) (IUCN 2012)
IUCN is implementing its flagship project titled “Updating Species Red List of Bangladesh” as a sub-project component of the “Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection Project” of the Bangladesh Forest Department funded by The World Bank since December 2013. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is widely recognized.