Have you ever heard of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)? It’s the oldest global conservation organization in the world, dedicated to conserving biodiversity. Founded in 1948 and headquartered in Gland, Switzerland, the IUCN is a large network of conservationists that come together to hold a neutral forum for scientists, governments, non-government organizations and local communities to find practical solutions to conservation and the preservation of biodiversity in the face of a growing population and development.

So how does the IUCN work? The IUCN is made up of more than 1,200 member organizations, approximately 11,000 volunteer scientists, and a staff of over 1,000 individuals that work in 45 offices around the world. Together, this group develops a Global Program every four years specific to certain conservation goals. For example, the 2013-2016 Program aims to “mobilize communities working for biodiversity conservation, sustainable development and poverty reduction in common efforts to halt biodiversity loss and apply nature-based solutions to conserve biodiversity, enhance resilience, strengthen equity, reduce poverty and so improve the wellbeing of people on this planet.”(Information provided from the IUCN website:http://www.iucn.org/what/global_programme/). Once a Global Program is developed, the member organizations, volunteer scientists, and staff set about implementing the program.

So why does a snake conservation group care about the IUCN? The IUCN also has theme-based programs, including Species Programs that specialize in working to conserve every species from Lichens to – you guessed it – snakes! In fact, there are three snake specialist groups (SG),
The Boa Python SG
, Sea Snake SG, and the Viper SG which is currently housed within The Orianne Society and Chaired by Orianne CEO Dr. Chris Jenkins.

Additionally, the IUCN developed and maintains the Red List. The IUCN Red List is similar to the US Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species List. The Red List is a call to fight extinction; the list is an assessment of the risk of extinction for thousands of species on a global scale. However, unlike the US Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species List, the IUCN does not have legal authority to protect these species. More so, the list is created to draw attention to species at risk of extinction, to facilitate conservation planning, to help in regional and global conservation decisions, and to monitor the threat of species extinction so that we can implement conservation action before it is too late.

Conservation cannot be achieved in a bubble. Global conservation networks such as the IUCN are critical to maintaining our world’s biodiversity. The IUCN Red List is currently the most comprehensive source of species population status in the world. We here at The Orianne Society are pleased to be part of such a group through the Viper Specialist Group and we encourage you to find out more about this organization. The information provided here is only a brief summary of the IUCN and only touches on the Species Specialist Groups. The IUCN has many other programs you may be interested in to help do your part for conservation. Find out more at http://www.iucn.org/.