Preventing Extinctions: How we work

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper is another Critically Endangered migratory species facing many threats. It is benefiting from concerted action by BirdLife and others. Photo: Chaiwat Chinuparawat/

The actions needed to help save most threatened species are well understood, although many species also require research to enhance recovery efforts. The most urgent actions are to protect and effectively manage Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, control or eradicate invasive alien species, restore habitat, control illegal killing of birds, raise awareness, and, in some cases, establish captive breeding and reintroduction programmes. There is good evidence that such actions can bring species back from the brink of extinction, with a suite of species that were once reduced to tiny populations now well on the road to recovery.

The Polynesian Ground-dove has benefited from island restoration by BirdLife and others on some of most remote islands in French Polynesia. Photo: Pete Morris

The development of two communities plays a central part in the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme, alongside the BirdLife Partners who lead the actions the achieve BirdLife’s mission, including on species, in their territories.  

BirdLife Species Guardians

BirdLife Species Guardians are individuals or organisations that are appointed to take on a commitment to implement, coordinate and promote conservation action for a particular threatened species. A Species Guardian may be a BirdLife Local Conservation Group, although other arrangements are possible where appropriate. Priority is given to the recruiting and supporting Species Guardians for species that are Critically Endangered and therefore most urgently in need of conservation attention.

BirdLife Species Champions

BirdLife Species Champions are companies, organisations or individuals who wish to support BirdLife in its work preventing extinctions. As well as providing the funding that brings threatened birds back from the brink of extinction, Species Champions also draw attention to the plight of the species they support and the other threatened birds the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme is working to protect.

In many cases, a Species Guardian is linked to a Species Champion to ensure a species gets the help it needs, with further support from the BirdLife Partnership, facilitated by the Secretariat. BirdLife helps Species Guardians to liaise with decision-makers and governments, and raises awareness of their work through ensuring coverage of it by the world’s media. And our cutting-edge global science work ensures that Species Guardians operate with objectivity and adhere to clear global priorities, and that systems are in place to measure success.

The Red List of Birds

The BirdLife Secretariat is the Red List Authority for birds on the IUCN Red List, coordinating the process of evaluating all of the world’s 10,000 bird species against the Red List categories and criteria in order to assess their extinction risk. Our detailed information on the threats to species and actions required helps shape the conservation actions implemented by the BirdLife Partnership through its Preventing Extinctions Programme. The Red List also plays a similar role for other organisations concerned with bird species conservation, who are fully involved in keeping it up to date.

Download BirdLife's summary on Saving the World’s Most Threatened Birds