The Lists of Threatened Species and Habitats are widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species, and during the past years also of habitats. The Red Lists are designed to determine the relative risk of extinction or collapse, with the main purpose of cataloguing and highlighting those taxa that are facing a higher risk of extinction, or those habitats that are under threat. These taxa provide also an index of the state of change of biodiversity. The assessment of taxa and ecosystems using Red List Criteria represents a critical first step in setting priorities for conservation action (IUCN 20121, 20132 ).
Carpathians are well-known as the eco-region with very rich and unique biodiversity. Some Carpathian countries have developed their national lists of threatened species of plants and animals and most of them are included in the lists of protected species in their national legislation. Joint efforts between Carpathian countries are crucial for the monitoring, risk assessment and conservation actions for species and habitats.
The elaboration of the proposal of the Carpathian Red List of Species and of Habitats, including endemic flora and fauna species and endangered natural and semi-natural habitat types native to the Carpathians, following internationally recognized principles and criteria (e. g. IUCN Red List Criteria), is the task agreed by the Carpathian countries in the Strategic Action Plan for the Implementation of the Protocol on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological and Landscape Diversity to the Carpathian Convention.
The aim of the regional assessment is to
- Identify those species and habitats that are threatened with extinction and in danger of disappearance in their natural range, or have a small natural range following their regression or by reason of their intrinsically restricted area, or present outstanding examples of typical characteristics of the region at the Carpathian level – so that appropriate conservation action can be taken to improve their status.
- Use it as an indicator for assessing the condition of ecosystems and to identify areas and habitats that need conservation measures to prevent extinctions.
- Contribute to regional conservation planning and to the implementation of the Carpathian Convention and European legislation.
- Contribute to averting European/global biodiversity loss.
- Monitor, on a continuous basis the status of a representative selection of species (as biodiversity indicators) that cover all the major ecosystems of the region.
The development of the Red Lists of Species and Habitats, and the Red List of Invasive Alien Species for the Carpathian region
The development of the Red Lists of Species and Habitats, and the Red List of Invasive Alien Species for the Carpathian region was coordinated by the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic within the BioREGIO Carpathians project, Work Package 3, funded by the ETC SEE. At the moment the Lists are proposals that are up for discussion in the Biodiversity Working Group under the umbrella of the Carpathian Convention.
The development of the Red List of Threatened Habitats was a new challenge as the IUCN Ecosystems Categories and Criteria3 still is a draft document. There were no relevant data available to use IUCN criteria for any of the respective habitat types; therefore it was necessary to develop special criteria for habitats at the regional level. Missing exact data on the distribution of habitats and trends in most of the Carpathian countries made it even more difficult.
Using approaches of former works, a new methodology for Carpathian habitats was developed by the team of experts. The introduction of non-native species has been considered the second greatest threat to biological diversity. Many of introduced plant and animal species are beneficial for humans. However, some of them are harmful and may have significant negative impacts on native biodiversity, economy and even human health. Globalisation processes have created new pathways for the introduction of non-native species to Europe including the Carpathian region. Complete lists of alien flora and fauna or in particular lists of invasive alien species are a helpful tool to address invasive alien species issues on national and regional level. Therefore, in the last decades, detailed catalogues of alien flora and fauna causing impacts on biodiversity, economic activities and human health have been produced from the local to the global level.
The objective of the BioREGIO Carpathian project was to produce a draft Carpathian Red List of threatened habitats and species, to give a clearer picture on the status of alien species in the Carpathian region and to generate the first List of Invasive Alien Species, as a step towards implementation of the Articles 8, 12 and 13 of the Protocol on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological and Landscape Diversity.
The outputs are a set of factsheets available online about basic data, important for assessing threat status of forest habitats, non-forest habitats, vascular plants, vertebrates and selected groups of invertebrates, and the draft regional Carpathian Red List on the status of these groups. Similar fact sheets for the Carpathian List of Invasive Alien Species enable us to prepare the starting point for future studies on the trends of invasive species, and can influence measures taken on regional and national policy level for a better management and impact mitigation measures.
In BioREGIO Carpathians, limited time and resources were available and when gaps in databases and monitoring were identified, only a certain number of selected “flagship” animal groups of invertebrates could be assessed. The studied species were recognized as suitable for the assignment of the IUCN Red List Categories and at the same time included in the Annexes of the EU Directives and the Bern Convention.
To gain results that would be comparable with the global evaluation and with other regional evaluations and that would be internationally accepted, the status of the species was assessed using the IUCN Red List Criteria (IUCN 20124), which are the world’s most widely accepted system for measuring extinction risk. The experts used the Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional Levels (IUCN 2012). In the case of habitats, the draft international tool was elaborated and used as a guide.
Table 1: Threatened categories of habitats and species assessed in the Carpathians
Legend: EX = Extinct; EX? = Probably Extinct; RE = Regionally Extinct; RE? = Probably Regionally Extinct; CR = Critically Endangered; CR (PE) = Critically Endangered (possibly extinct); EN = Endangered; VU = Vulnerable
According to the Protocol on Biodiversity to the Carpathian Convention, each Party shall pursue policies aiming at the prevention of introducing or releasing invasive alien species as well as implementing early warning systems for new invasive alien species. These species are likely to have adverse environmental impacts that could affect the biological diversity, ecosystems, habitats and species of the Carpathians. Each Party shall take measures in their national territory with the objective to prevent the introduction or the release of such species and, if need be, to control or eradicate these.
For the purpose of compiling the Carpathian List of Invasive Alien Species (IAS), already existing flora and fauna databases, catalogues or Lists of Alien Species in the project countries were compiled to establish the Carpathian List of IAS. This list was based on available data and within limited time and resources available in the project there was no ambition to provide a complete list of alien species in the Carpathians with the information on their status. Species identified as invasive in one of the Carpathian countries were assessed as candidates for the Carpathian List only. The List covers vascular plants, vertebrates and selected groups of invertebrates.
|Groups assessed||Vascular plants||Mollusca||Malacostraca||Orthoptera||Hemiptera||Lepidoptera||Coleoptera||Osteichthyes||Reptilia||Mammalia|
|# of species||37||11||1||1||2||6||4||10||1||4|
1 1 2 6 4 10 1 4Table 2: Number of invasive alien plant and animal species in the Carpathians.
The Carpathian Convention Protocol states that Parties to the Carpathian Convention shall pursue policies aiming at conservation, sustainable use and restoration of biological and landscape diversity throughout the Carpathians. The Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure a high level of protection and sustainable use of natural and semi-natural habitats, their continuity and connectivity, and species of flora and fauna being characteristic to the Carpathians, in particular the protection of endangered species, endemic species and large carnivores.
It is important to stress that according to IUCN guidelines the Red Lists include only species and habitats in danger of becoming extinct or in risk of collapse and many others were left out due to e.g. lack of data and knowledge. A Red List based on the IUCN Criteria is not automatically a list of priorities for conservation actions. It is important to link immediate conservation measures to the red-listed species but there is also a large group of other species, not red-listed, which need protection.
So the aim was also to provide a basement for joint efforts in policies aiming at conservation, sustainable use and restoration of biological diversity throughout the Carpathians and to prepare data for compatible monitoring systems, coordinated regional inventories of species and habitats and coordinated scientific research. You can discover the compiled data on the geoportal.
Text compiled by State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic
1 IUCN, 2012a. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. Iv + 32 pp.
2 IUCN, 2013b. Standards and Petitions Subcommittee. Guidelines for Using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 10. Prepared by the Standards and Petitions Subcommittee. Downloadable from http://www.iucnredlist.org/documents/RedListGuidelines.pdf.
3 IUCN, 2014. Red List of Ecosystems http://www.iucnredlistofecosystems.org
4 IUCN, 2012. Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels: Version 4.0. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. Iii + 41 pp. Results of the efforts are available at http://www.bioregio-carpathians.eu/key-outputs-and-publications.html.