The comprehensive study represents a giant step forward in the real knowledge of the extreme situation of biodiversity risk facing our country.
In Spain, according to the IUCN Red List of threatened species, there are currently a total of 193 critically endangered species, 418 endangered species and 498 vulnerable species. Against this backdrop, the Centre for the Survival of Macaronesia Species (CSSM) of Loro Parque Fundación, and the Spanish Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, have published the report “State of biodiversity in Spain 2023”.
The aim of this complete document is to collaborate in the implementation throughout Spain of the so-called Conservation Cycle defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. A series of actions that represent hope for the preservation of endangered species.
In this context, the celebration of International Biodiversity Day, which has been celebrated every 22 May since 2020, takes on extraordinary relevance as a special moment to raise awareness of the desperate situation of species in a coordinated manner in all the autonomous communities. The 2019 report of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warns of the very real possibility of the disappearance of a million species in the coming decades. An ecological and environmental disaster that the World Economic Forum has even incorporated into its global report on risks to the world economy this year.
An essential catalogue to develop actions for the defence of the natural environment
The creation of this exhaustive catalogue represents an enormous step forward in the development of actions for the protection of endangered species, as it represents a unification of existing scientific data and criteria. When a comparison is made between endangered species according to the IUCN Red List and those protected by the National Catalogue of Threatened Species or by the catalogues belonging to the autonomous communities, it can be seen that, overall, there is a 65% discrepancy. In other words, more than half of the species considered threatened by the IUCN are not classified in the national or regional catalogues, or are classified in a different category to those established in the Red List. This discrepancy makes evident the need to update the scientific information on these species in the Red List and re-evaluate them, so that the need to update or not the catalogues can be substantiated, and thus harmonise the indicators of biodiversity loss with their conservation tools.
Hotspots of species loss in Spain
In addition, several hotspots of critically endangered biodiversity have been detected within our territory. These are the areas where the greatest number of critically endangered species are concentrated, according to the IUCN, and which require greater attention and protection. These include the Doñana National Park (Andalusia), the Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park (Castilla la Mancha), the Sierra de Espadán Natural Park (Valencia), the Jandía Natural Park (Fuerteventura, Canary Islands), the Doramas Natural Park (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands), the Garajonay National Park (La Gomera, Canary Islands), Tibataje and Las Playas (El Hierro, Canary Islands).
Finally, the report also compares protected areas at regional/national/international level with Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), which are areas designated by the IUCN as contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity. As a result of the analysis, an overlap of 64.4% was found between both figures, indicating that almost two thirds of the areas designated as KBAs are within the different territorial protection figures, and just over a third would be outside.
The situation in the Canary Islands
In the Canary Islands there are 101 critically endangered species and 141 endangered species. The most endangered taxonomic group taking into account the two previous categories is that of plants with 119 species, 44 molluscs and 31 arthropods. For example, one of these species is the cock’s cockscomb (Isoplexis chalcantha), categorised as critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List and endemic to the island of Gran Canaria, so it is not possible to find it anywhere else in the world.