The world's largest network of conservation experts dedicated to fighting the species extinction crisis
The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) is a science-based network of some 7,000 volunteer experts from almost every country of the world, all working together towards achieving the vision of ďA world that values and conserves present levels of biodiversity."
Members include researchers, government officials, wildlife veterinarians, zoo and botanical institute employees, marine biologists, protected area managers, and experts on plants, birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. Most members are deployed in more than 100 Specialist Groups and Task Forces. Some groups address conservation issues related to particular groups of plants or animals while others focus on topical issues such as reintroduction of species into former habitats, or wildlife health.
SSCís major role is to provide information to IUCN on biodiversity conservation, the inherent value of species, their role in ecosystem health and functioning, the provision of ecosystem services, and their support to human livelihoods. SSC members also provide scientific advice to conservation organisations, government agencies and other IUCN members, and support the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements.
The IUCN Species Programme (SP)
The IUCN Species Programme supports the activities of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and individual Specialist Groups, as well as implementing global species conservation initiatives. It is an integral part of the IUCN Secretariat and is managed from IUCNís international headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. The Species Programme includes a number of technical units covering Wildlife Trade, the Red List, Freshwater Biodiversity Assessments, (all located in Cambridge, UK), and the Global Biodiversity Assessment Initiative (located in Washington DC, USA).
The work of the Species Survival Commission is supported by the IUCN Species Programme. The two share the same vision and objectives, and both contribute to delivery of the single IUCN Programme. Although there is great overlap between SSC and the Species Programme, the work of the Commission is far wider-ranging through the multitude of activities carried out by the more than 100 Specialist Groups.
Priority activities for SSC and the Species Programme
SSC is committed to providing the world with the most objective, scientifically-based information on the current status of global biodiversity. It disseminates this information through the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
As it is not possible to evaluate all known species, SSC is working with partners to cover key taxonomic groups such as amphibians and mammals, or selected species in habitats such as freshwater or marine. All species assessment work carried out by SSC, the Species Programme, and partner organizations feeds into the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. With its strong scientific base, the Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity. It is increasingly used as a tool to stimulate conservation action.
Drawing on information collated in the Red List, SSC is developing a set of biodiversity indicators based on changes in the status of species over time, to help measure progress against global targets of reducing biodiversity loss.
Species Information Service
The Species Information Service is SSCís emerging data management initiative designed to manage the vast amount of information being gathered on species and make it available to all those who need it, or can act on it to bring about positive conservation action.
The SIS, managed by SSC's network of Specialist Groups will be easily accessible to the conservation and development communities including scientists, natural resource managers, educators, decision-makers and donors.
In the coming years, SSC will focus on using the Red List and the SIS as crucial tools to carry out key taxonomic, regional and global assessments, and develop indicators to monitor trends in global biodiversity loss.
Providing technical advice to conventions
Drawing on the vast expertise that lies in the SSC network, much of the work of the Species Programme and Commission involves providing technical and scientific advice to governments, international environmental treaties, and conservation organizations. Priority conventions are the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on Migratory Species
Through its technical input, SSC strives to ensure that decisions that affect the use of natural resources are based on the best available objective scientific information.
The technical guidelines produced by the SSC provide guidance to specialized conservation projects and initiatives, such as re-introducing animals into their former ranges, handling confiscated specimens, and halting the spread of invasive species. All policy statements and technical guidelines are available on the SSC website.