8th June 2016 / Commentary by Bennett Hennessey
In this guest commentary, Bennett Hennessey, the American Bird Conservancy’s Brazil Bird Conservation Coordinator, argues that foundations and conservation-minded individuals need to be guided through the science to a clear list of top priorities that represent the most we can do to halt the extinction rate.
Brazil is the canary in the coal mine for the neotropics, indicating the potential future if the rest of the developing world follows the globally inherited pathway to success, Bennett writes.
Brazil has the highest number of threatened birds in the world with IUCN listing 164 threatened bird species divided between 24 Critically Endangered, 45 Endangered and 95 Vulnerable.
"In most countries, a Critically Endangered bird is instantly the top conservation priority. But in Brazil, with so many birds on the brink of extinction, conservationists must subdivided Critically Endangered into emergency, stable, and cannot find."
We are told that you can neatly divide the countries of the world into developed nations, developing nations, and the BRICS nations — the countries that are on the cusp of becoming developed, considered to be Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
Brazil is the nation in the new world tropics closest to joining the developed club. As such, Brazil is the canary in the coal mine for the neotropics, indicating the potential future if developing countries follow the globally inherited pathway to success.
Unfortunately, the canary is wobbly on its perch.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List is the global standard used to identify species in threat of extinction. The IUCN lists threatened wildlife species from the most threatened, or “Critically Endangered,” to “Endangered” and “Vulnerable to Extinction,” with the lowest threat level being “Near Threatened.” The IUCN has developed rigorous criteria to rank species according to their population size, habitat area, rate of population decline, and the level of future threat. Thus, a threatened species designation is based on objective criteria and the best data that exists, and should not be manipulated with subjective opinions.