The Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), a global initiative of biodiversity conservation organizations, aims to prevent extinctions by identifying and safeguarding key sites where species are in imminent danger of disappearing, ProAves is part of this cause.
The goal of the Alliance is to create a front line of defense against extinction by eliminating threats and restoring habitat to allow species populations to rebound.
AZE’s goal is to create a front line of defense against extinction by eliminating threats and restoring habitat to allow wildlife populations to rebound.
Extinction is a natural process, but human activities have led to global extinction rates that are between 100 and 1,000 times higher than those typical of “recent” millennia. Habitat loss, commercial exploitation, disease, and the introduction of invasive species have reduced populations and ranges, and increased the extinction risk for an ever-increasing proportion of the approximately 26,000 species of terrestrial vertebrates. Unless we stem the tide, our descendants will inherit a biologically impoverished world, look back with regret, and wonder why their parents and grandparents did not act while they still could.
The purpose of the Alliance is to identify sites in most urgent need of conservation, and to act together to prevent species extinctions. Because time is running out for many important sites, our science must be iterative: it must begin with the crises we know about, and expand its focus as new information emerges on the status of species and their habitats.
AZE is first focusing on species that face extinction either because their last remaining habitat is being degraded at a local level, or because their tiny global range makes them especially vulnerable to external threats. Outside the scope of the Alliance, many AZE members are also working to protect highly endangered species that are more wide-ranging and require different conservation measures.
AZE uses the following criteria to identify priority sites (a site must meet all three to qualify):
1. Endangerment. An AZE site must contain at least one Endangered (EN) or Critically Endangered (CR) species, as listed on the IUCN Red List.
2. Irreplaceability. An AZE site should only be designated if it is the sole area where an EN or CR species occurs, contains the overwhelmingly significant known resident population of the EN or CR species, or contains the overwhelmingly significant known population for one life history segment (e.g. breeding or wintering) of the EN or CR species.
3. Discreteness. The area must have a definable boundary within which the character of habitats, biological communities, and/or management issues have more in common with each other than they do with those in adjacent areas.
AZE scientists working in collaboration with an international network of experts have so far identified 595 such sites that must be effectively protected to prevent the extinction of 794 of the world’s most threatened species (many sites have more than one AZE “trigger species” confined to them).
To date, AZE has identified sites for those taxonomic groups that have been globally assessed for threat level: mammals, birds, some reptiles (crocodilians, iguanas, turtles, and tortoises), amphibians, and conifers. Other taxa will be added as data become available. By drawing global attention to these areas, we aim to prevent the most imminent species extinctions. Once a systematic effort to conserve these sites and species is underway, AZE will expand its focus to additional areas, and wider-ranging highly threatened species.
AZE welcomes the participation of any group or individual sharing our concern for the future of our planet’s biodiversity, and wishing to help in this vital global endeavor. If your organization wishes to join AZE or if you or your organization wish to help support the Alliance’s conservation efforts, please contact Mike Parr, Secretary of the Alliance: 202 234-7181 x 204, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pinpointing and preventing imminent extinctions (AZE)