The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) today published its Global Typology of Ecosystems, the first-ever comprehensive system for classifying and mapping all ecosystems on Earth based on both their functions and composition. The typology allows for more coordinated and effective approaches to conservation management.
The typology defines the key biophysical features of 108 major ecosystem types throughout the oceans, freshwater and land, and describes the processes that sustain them as well as their global distributions. It encompasses ecosystems that are shaped by humans – such as croplands and dams – as well as vast forest wilderness, deserts, deep ocean trenches, and even ecosystems buried below ground and beneath ice sheets. This systematic approach to classifying ecosystems will help identify which types of forests, reefs and wetlands, for example, are most critical to biodiversity conservation and the supply of ecosystem services, and which are at greatest risk of collapse.