Working Group 3 - Filling the gaps in plant conservation



Data indicate that the total number of vascular plant species in Europe is about 10,500 species with about 33 % of them being endemic to the region. The first assessment of Europe’s Vascular Plants by IUCN in 2011 assessed 1,826 species (=17.4% of the European flora) and showed that at least 467 (=25.6%) are threatened with extinction. If we include in those numbers the whole Mediterranean basin, which represents one of the global biodiversity hotspots and a larger part of southern Europe, the number would exceed 25,000 with 13,000 endemic species and an unknown but undoubtedly high share of threatened species. A brief review of the IUCN assessment would highlight the geographical inequity of the assessment, where species rich South-eastern Europe is largely neglected. A lack of coherence in plant conservation is an ongoing problem within European countries. There are significant differences between regions and countries within regions in financial resources and human expertise. There is a significant gap of data for some European regions. Moreover, an additional issue in plant conservation is represented by the inconsistency between red list criteria among different countries. In most countries, red list criteria follow the IUCN categories. However, these have changed throughout the years, while national red list categories sometimes follow the old categorisation. In order to make categories comparable between countries, countries should be encouraged to harmonise their categorisation with IUCN and re-evaluate their species accordingly. Some criteria are also not yet implemented in the IUCN list; historic bottlenecks are not mentioned, slow population declines are not considered a threat, there are no differences between rare but stable species and declining species, plants with different life forms and life spans are treated similarly, etc. Beside this, there are also lists of protected and strictly protected species on national or regional level that do not have to be strictly connected with IUCN but are even more thoroughly regulated by national legislations.

Working Group Leaders: 

Peter Glasnović (
Michael Kiehn (

Working Group Members