By Faranak Bakhtiari

Our life depends on species, ecosystems

May 21, 2022 - 16:28

TEHRAN – More than 10,000 vertebrate species are pushed to extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The continuing loss of species, habitats, and ecosystems also threatens all living creatures on earth, including humans.

People everywhere rely on biodiversity and wildlife resources to meet all their needs, from food to fuel, medicine, housing, and clothing. 

Millions also rely on nature as their source of livelihood and economic opportunity, so it is urgently needed to reverse the fate of the most vitally endangered species, support the restoration of their habitats and ecosystems, and promote their sustainable use by humans.

According to the IUCN, at least 40 percent of animals, insects, and plants are at risk of extinction across the world. To prevent these species from going extinct and create awareness, the Endangered Species Day is observed.

Every year on the third Friday in May, Endangered Species Day is observed, and this year it will be observed on May 20. The day is designed to help people come together to find innovative ways to solve environmental problems and save endangered species.

Currently, more than 41 percent of amphibians, 26 percent of mammals, 21 percent of reptiles, and 13 percent of birds are threatened. In the latest statistics, the number of endangered species in the country is 75 vertebrate species (18 species of mammals, 29 species of birds, 4 species of amphibians, and 16 species of reptiles) on the IUCN Red List.

Some of the endangered species are the bald eagle, the alligator, snow leopards, polar bear, Asiatic cheetah, and the grey wolf among others.

Some of the endangered species are the bald eagle, the alligator, snow leopards, polar bear, Asiatic cheetah, and the grey wolf among others.

Iranian vertebrates are counted as 198 mammal species, 559 species of birds, 242 species of reptiles, and 25 species of amphibians (1023 species in total); 274 approved species of fish in inland waters, and 975 species of marine fish (sharks and aquatic fish) has been registered in the country, but this list is subject to change due to genetic and field studies.

Role of IUCN

The International Union for Conservation of Nature is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, and education. IUCN's mission is to "influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable".

Established in 1964, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk status of animals, fungi, and plant species.

To date, many species groups including mammals, amphibians, birds, reef-building corals, and conifers have been comprehensively assessed. As well as assessing newly recognized species, the IUCN Red List also re-assesses the status of some existing species, sometimes with positive stories to tell. 

For example, good news such as the downlisting (i.e. improvement) of a number of species on the IUCN Red List categories scale, due to conservation efforts. 

The bad news, however, is that biodiversity is declining. Currently, there are more than 142,500 species on The IUCN Red List, with more than 40,000 species threatened with extinction, including 41 percent of amphibians, 37 percent of sharks and rays, 34 percent of conifers, 33 percent of reef-building corals, 26 percent of mammals and 13 percent of birds.

The solution to the bitter reality of the improper condition of the species is to streamline conservation and correct behavior at the community level, public participation, and attention to the scientific, functional, economic, cultural, aesthetic, and intrinsic values of the species.

Key species such as large cats, bears, crocodiles, and sharks have significant functional roles that lead to the maintenance and proper functioning of ecosystems, and ecosystem services such as pest control, flood control, carbon sequestration, and disease control, and air conditioning. The provision of our food and necessities, etc., plays a decisive role in the welfare and health of human societies.

Our survival depends on the conservation of species and ecosystems, and the continuation of the current trend will cause us more challenges and we will lose more species.


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