Red Lists and Species Statuses




Species status assessments are a globally recognised way of identifying conservation priorities. The principles underpinning such assessments are that they should be objective and based on scientific information, and that information on species conservation status and distribution should provide the foundation for making informed decisions about preserving biodiversity at local to global levels.


The Species Status Assessment project was established by JNCC in 1999 with the aim of assigning conservation status to British species. This task was undertaken in collaboration with the statutory conservation agencies in partnership with voluntary conservation organisations and leading specialists, producing and revising both Red Data Books and National Reviews. The project ended in 2008.


The Species Status project is the successor to the JNCC’s Species Status Assessment project, providing up-to-date assessments of the threat status of various taxa using the internationally accepted Red List guidelines developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (IUCN, 2012a; 2012b; IUCN Standards and Petitions Subcommittee, 2013, 2014) (see The reason for this change is to enable the country agencies, not just JNCC, to publish GB red lists. Under the Species Status project, the UK’s statutory nature conservation agencies will be able to initiate, resource and publish Red Lists and other status reviews of selected taxonomic groups for Great Britain which will then be submitted to JNCC for accreditation. All publications will explain the rationale for the assessments made. The approved threat statuses will be entered into the JNCC database of species conservation designations.


JNCC’s role


JNCC’s role is to quality assure Red Lists submitted to JNCC for process compliance.To do this JNCC will carry out a robust assessment to ensure that draft Red Lists meet the strict scientific standards of the IUCN. This includes ensuring the correct application of the IUCN Red List criteria and checking scientific rigour (see below) but does not include assessing the quality of the data used. Authors submitting draft Red Lists to JNCC should ensure that the data used have been gathered and treated according to scientific principles and following good practice, are appropriate, and that these methods are regularly reviewed and fully documented (see for example NBN Data Quality). When these standards are met, JNCC will offer endorsement of the work and publication on the JNCC website including listing in the JNCC designations spreadsheet.


Below are examples of the issues that are examined by JNCC when quality assuring draft Red Lists:


Version - That the 2001 IUCN version 3.1 was used (see the Red List website and note that this publications has a 2nd version);

Terminology  - That the correct IUCN terminology was used – mainly refers to definitions which may differ slightly but importantly from ordinary biological use;

Documentation - Correct referencing e.g. CR A2c+3c; B1ab(iii) – which helps check that all appropriate sub-criteria have been applied properly;

Data  - A clear explanation of how data were used to meet the criteria - includes data analysis/treatment and any deviations from the process listed in IUCN version 3.1 (2001);

That the evidence used supports the criteria;

Classification - That categories were assigned correctly – i.e. a check of the interpretation and use of the data.


JNCC will also provide guidance for those wishing to develop or revise such lists.

The project manager for the Red List work is  of the Biodiversity Information Advice Team.