Everyone knows that coral reefs are in danger, and that rainforests are disappearing – or do we? How much of these ecosystems are left, and what is their risk of being lost? As basic and important as these questions are to the conservation of the worlds’ biodiversity, the global community does not yet have a standard way of answering them. This also
means that we lack a reference system for promoting good ecosystem management and ensuring ecosystem health, which is increasingly seen as a critical aspect of human well being, including for disaster risk reduction, and for climate change adaptation, as highlighted by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. To address this major gap, in 2008, the IV World Conservation Congress approved Resolution 4.020 (Quantitative thresholds for categories and criteria of threatened ecosystems) launching a process leading to the creation of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. In turn, the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) established the Ecosystem Red List Thematic Group to see this process through. During 2009-2011, quantitative thresholds were developed for designation of threatened ecosystems and have undergone wide testing in several countries around the world. The workshop will allow the CEM Ecosystem Red List Thematic Group to share the results to date with participants in the Forum, present a portfolio of case studies of the application of the proposed ecosystem red list categories and criteria, and seek feedback from the IUCN membership. This would be the final step in the consultation and testing process initiated in 2008. After considering all the feedback, we plan to request Council to formally adopt of the categories and criteria for the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems by early 2013.