The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

This website presents the National Red List of the Republic of North Macedonia. The National Red List is based on the principles and methodologies of the global  IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, or in short: the IUCN Red List This section gives a brief background on the global roots of the National Red List.

The global IUCN Red List uses a set of five Criteria to categorise species according to their risk of becoming extinct in the near future. This assessment of extinction risk is based on an extensive compilation of data available from throughout the species’ distribution, making the IUCN Red List far more than just a list of species and their conservation status. It provides information about range, population size, habitat and ecology, use and/or trade, threats, and conservation actions. As such, it is a powerful tool to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation and policy change, and is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity.

The IUCN Red List is also a great communication tool to reach out and inform the general public of the status of biodiversity across the globe or within a specific region. It provides information summaries useful for scientific analyses and can be used by industrial developers to identify areas to be avoided for planned developments. The IUCN Red List is also used to guide management of natural resources across scales: from local Environmental Impact Assessments and the development of national policies and legislation, to the identification of important species in the frames of international multi-lateral environmental agreements. In addition, the IUCN Red Lists has proven a crucial necessity for reporting progress towards conservation goals set on the international level, such as the Aichi biodiversity targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Red List Index

The Red List Index (RLI) is an informative index for conservation planning that builds on the Red List concept. The RLI is an index value between 0 and 1 used to track trends in the overall projected relative extinction risk for sets of species over a period of time. The index is calculated for a set of species (e.g. a particular taxonomic group) using a mathematical formula based on the species’ Red List status. If all species in the set are classified as Extinct, the index value reaches 0; if all species are classified as Least Concern, the value reaches 1. An intermediate value indicates how far the set of species has moved overall towards extinction (i.e. 0).

When a taxonomic group has been assessed at least twice with a number of years in between, a Red List Index can illustrate the relative rate at which the group has changed its overall projected relative extinction risk.

More information about the IUCN Red List and the Red List Index can be found on the IUCN Red List website.

Regional and national Red Lists

Local extinction risk

The value of the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognised. It is extensively used as a tool for guiding policy at international levels. However, extinction risk is often not constant across a species’ global range: in some areas its populations may be under greater threat than in others areas. Conducting Red List assessments at regional or national level can provide more relevant information for its conservation at more local scales.

Red Lists assessments that cover only part of the globe are usually referred to as regional Red Lists. Examples include the Red Lists for the European and Mediterranean regions conducted by IUCN, estimating the extinction risk within these regions for taxonomic groups such as amphibians, beetles, bees, mammals, mosses, etc.

When a region is delimited by national borders,  the Red List is referred to as a national Red List. In contrast to the global and some regional Red Lists, which are produced by IUCN, the planning and producing of the national Red Lists is the responsibility of the relevant national bodies. The table below illustrates the differences between the global IUCN Red List and a national Red List. Because of these differences, the national or regional-level extinction risk of a species may be different from the extinction risk at global level.

  global national
Geographic scope Planet Earth The national boundaries
Executing body IUCN National-level body (sometimes with support of IUCN)
Methodology IUCN v3.1 National preference. IUCN recommends IUCN v3.1
Extinction risk Extinction risk is evaluated for the global population Extinction risk is evaluated for the portion of the global population residing within the national boundaries. Species with only a tiny fraction (e.g. 1%) of their global population occurring in the country may be omitted from national Red List efforts. Because extinction risk is variable across a species’ range, the national extinction risk may differ from the global extinction risk.
Endemism All known species are endemic to planet Earth The national Red List assessment of a species that is endemic to the country is simultaneously its global Red List assessment. The conservation of such species is the full responsibility of the national authorities. For non-endemic species, the proportion of the global population residing within the country determines the conservation responsibility of the country for the conservation of the species.
Migratory species Since the extinction risk is evaluated at the global level, extinction risk along the entire migratory route is evaluated at once. Role of national territory for the species survival (breeding, transit, wintering) to be acknowledged through application of the IUCN Regional Guidelines.
Native/introduced species All known species are native to planet Earth Set date threshold to indicate from which date species are regarded non-native (e.g. arrivals from before 1500 CE (Common Era) are considered native)

The importance of a national Red List

National Red Lists are useful tools for conservation. Although a national Red List should never be considered a species conservation priority list per se, the relevant national government departments (e.g. the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia) may use it to inform national conservation policy such as the List of Protected and Strictly Protected Species, CITES proposals, etc. In many cases, such policies are required to comply with international agreements and the EU regulations. The national Red List is often a main objective in national biodiversity action plans and strategies.

The scientific community can use the national Red List to guide research questions. For example, research can be directed to gather ecological information about threatened species and their habitat that will enhance the effects of applied conservation measures, or can be focused on filling data gaps for species that are classified as Data Deficient.

Civil Society Organizations can use the Red List to set their conservation priorities and guide biodiversity monitoring efforts. Organisations that have a strong outreach component can use the information and Red List status of particular species to highlight environmental problems and solutions.

In addition, it is well-known that the conservation status of a species is an important factor in funding allocations for many potential funders. Furthermore, in recent decades, businesses across the world have been increasingly taking corporate responsibility into account in their business planning, including their responsibility to evaluate and limit the impact of their business practices on the environment they share with society. Enterprises that plan to expand business activities and infrastructure can consult the national Red List and updated national lists of Protected and Strictly Protected species to identify areas of natural importance (i.e. hosting many threatened species).

The National Red List of North Macedonia

First steps

In 2017, the need for National Red Lists across a broad range of taxonomic groups in North Macedonia had already been on the conservation agenda for several years. The need had been recognised by academia, NGOs and governmental agencies alike: strategies that include National Red List objectives are the National Strategy for Nature Protection with Action Plan (2017-2027) and the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2018-2023). It was also acknowledged explicitly in national legislation: the Law on Nature Protection of the Republic of North Macedonia prescribes the development of national Red Lists using the IUCN Red List methodology (“Official Gazette” no. 67/04, as amended). The existence of preliminary Red Lists for certain species groups (e.g. Orthoptera, Lepidoptera, Fungi) were a testimony of the motivation of the conservation community to move the red-listing process forward. However, even though the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria were used, their alignment with the IUCN Red List guidelines was inadequately documented, making them vulnerable to criticism and causing their impact to remain mostly limited to the scientific realm.

Mid-2017, an opportunity was created to start implementing a national red-listing initiative in North Macedonia, to produce the first official National Red Lists, fully aligned with all relevant IUCN Red List guidelines. The Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office (ECARO) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) facilitated and guided the first steps of this national Red List process. The initiative formed part of a large project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by UN Environment and the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning: “Achieving Biodiversity Conservation through Creation and Effective Management of Protected Areas and Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Land Use Planning”. IUCN ECARO was engaged to implement Outcome 2.1.1 of the project: “A ’Red List Index’ for Macedonia is generated, reflecting the prioritized list of threatened species within the country adopted by the Government of Macedonia”.

As a starting point, a guidance report “National Red Lists for Species Conservation in North Macedonia” was produced in order to help set the framework for the national Red List assessments. The report provides background to the global IUCN Red List and the differences with National Red Lists, and gives recommendations for structuring the North Macedonian Red List process.

Assessment scope

The first steps focused on a limited number of taxonomic groups. The selection of these groups, out of all major groups across the taxonomic spectrum, was based on 20 weighted criteria, such as whether distribution data is available, whether the rate of endemism is high, or whether the species is important for international policy. These criteria were developed and scored in several consultation rounds with all stakeholders and species experts. Based on these scores, a preliminary ranking of taxonomic groups was produced and the final selection of groups was determined by IUCN, UNEP and MoEPP, taking into account efficiency of the efforts (e.g. tackling amphibians and reptiles simultaneously due to expertise residing with the same experts).

In the first official Red List effort in North Macedonia, the extinction risk of the populations of all 32 reptile and 14 amphibian species that occur in the country was evaluated according the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (see also).

In addition, an important step towards efficient red-listing of vascular plants was taken. In contrast to the amphibians and reptiles, the most important outcome was not the full Red List of vascular plants, but a list of priority species to undergo a Red List assessment. From over 3000 species of vascular plants, a subset of around 15% was identified as priority species, based on 18 criteria regarding policy importance, endemism, rarity, and relict populations. To make a start with actual Red List assessments for vascular plants, a set of 14 vascular plant species important for international policy were assessed according to the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.

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