Wildlife Red List started with ring binders

This video is called What is IUCN? (English).

From Wildlife Extra:

The origin of the IUCN Red List lies in a collection of ring binders

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) has revealed how the global system for classifying endangered species, which forms the basis for modern conservation, began with a set of ring binders and their loose-leaf sheets.

Fifty years ago there was no way to collate data from research or anecdotes from around the world to assess which species were truly endangered.

Sir Peter Scott, founder of the WWT and one of the original members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was very concerned about what was happening in the world of wildlife.

Data was scarce and communication was slower, making it hard for early conservationists to contact others in the scientific community and share results.

As an ex-military man with a logical mind, Scott believed that categorising species and their status was a good place to start.

He kept these notes on hand-written, loose-leaf sheets in a ring binder and called them the Red Data books.

Decades later, these basic yet functional books evolved into the modern IUCN Red List, now the international standard for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.

From its small beginning, the IUCN Red List has grown in size and complexity and now covers over 76,000 species. It plays an increasingly prominent role in guiding conservation activities of governments, NGOs and scientific institutions.

Cassandra Phillips, Sir Peter’s personal assistant from 1981 to 1989 knew how passionate he was about saving species:

“Peter Scott was a brilliant communicator in so many different ways,” she says. “He had a loose leaf page for each endangered species, separated in proper categories, how endangered they were, what was known, as a basis for action.

“Maybe it was partly his training in the war; he had a very organised mind and he realised that the scientific basis of conservation and trying to help endangered species was crucially important. So the facts were important, and this was a wonderful visual way of getting facts across to people.

“Peter was inspiring, he would galvanise everybody, and it was always a question of ‘let’s do it now’. If he thought we should get in touch with somebody about a particular campaign, whether they were a broadcaster, a businessman or royalty, he’d just say, ‘Let’s see if they are there now. Where’s the telephone number?’”

Sir Peter achieved what many could never dream of in a lifetime; finding success as an author, TV presenter, Olympian, conservationist leader of WWT and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), and also a husband and father.

He was also an acclaimed painter who spent hours every day sketching things he saw in the natural world. He created both WWT’s swan logo, and WWF’s panda logo.

WWT logo

WWF logo

2 thoughts on “Wildlife Red List started with ring binders

  1. Pingback: Saving vultures in Pakistan | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: British Conservative attack on conservation | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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