The Conservation Measures Partnership

Threats Taxonomy

How Do We Define “Direct Threats”?

Direct threats are the proximate human activities or processes that have caused, are causing, or may cause the destruction, degradation, and/or impairment of biodiversity targets (e.g., unsustainable fishing or logging). Direct threats are synonymous with sources of stress and proximate pressures. Threats can be past (historical), ongoing, and/or likely to occur in the future.

Threats Taxonomy:

Exposition pages for threat categories under construction

1 Residential & Commercial Development

Threats from human settlements or other non-agricultural land uses with a substantial footprint

1.1 Housing & Urban Areas

Human cities, towns, and settlements including non-housing development typically integrated with housing

1.2 Commercial & Industrial Areas

Factories and other commercial centers

1.3 Tourism & Recreation Areas

Tourism and recreation sites with a substantial footprint

2 Agriculture & Aquaculture

Threats from farming and ranching as a result of agricultural expansion and intensification, including silviculture, mariculture and aquaculture

2.1 Annual & Perennial Non-Timber Crops

Crops planted for food, fodder, fiber, fuel, or other uses

2.2 Wood & Pulp Plantations

Stands of trees planted for timber or fiber outside of natural forests, often with non-native species

2.3 Livestock Farming & Ranching

Domestic terrestrial animals raised in one location on farmed or non-local resources (farming); also domestic or semi-domesticated animals allowed to roam in the wild and supported by natural habitats (ranching)

2.4 Marine & Freshwater Aquaculture

Aquatic animals raised in one location on farmed or non-local resources; also hatchery fish allowed to roam in the wild

3 Energy Production & Mining

Threats from production of non-biological resources

3.1 Oil & Gas Drilling

Exploring for, developing, and producing petroleum and other liquid hydrocarbons

3.2 Mining & Quarrying

Exploring for, developing, and producing minerals and rocks

3.3 Renewable Energy

Exploring, developing, and producing renewable energy

4 Transportation & Service Corridors

Threats from long narrow transport corridors and the vehicles that use them including associated wildlife mortality

4.1 Roads & Railroads

Surface transport on roadways and dedicated tracks

4.2 Utility & Service Lines

Transport of energy & resources

4.3 Shipping Lanes

Transport on and in freshwater and ocean waterways

4.4 Flight Paths

Air and space transport

5 Biological Resource Use

Threats from consumptive use of “wild” biological resources including both deliberate and unintentional harvesting effects; also persecution or control of specific species

5.1 Hunting & Collecting Terrestrial Animals

Killing or trapping terrestrial wild animals or animal products for commercial, recreation, subsistence, research or cultural purposes, or for control/persecution reasons; includes accidental mortality/bycatch

5.2 Gathering Terrestrial Plants

Harvesting plants, fungi, and other non-timber/non-animal products for commercial, recreation, subsistence, research or cultural purposes, or for control reasons

5.3 Logging & Wood Harvesting

Harvesting trees and other woody vegetation for timber, fiber, or fuel

5.4 Fishing & Harvesting Aquatic Resources

Harvesting aquatic wild animals or plants for commercial, recreation, subsistence, research, or cultural purposes, or for control/persecution reasons; includes accidental mortality/bycatch

6 Human Intrusions & Disturbance

Threats from human activities that alter, destroy and disturb habitats and species associated with non-consumptive uses of biological resources

6.1 Recreational Activities

People spending time in nature or traveling in vehicles outside of established transport corridors, usually for recreational reasons

6.2 War, Civil Unrest & Military Exercises

Actions by formal or paramilitary forces without a permanent footprint

6.3 Work & Other Activities

People spending time in or traveling in natural environments for reasons other than recreation, military activities, or research

7 Natural System Modifications

Threats from actions that convert or degrade habitat in service of “managing” natural or semi-natural systems, often to improve human welfare

7.1 Fire & Fire Suppression

Suppression or increase in fire frequency and/or intensity outside of its natural range of variation

7.2 Dams & Water Management/Use

Changing water flow patterns from their natural range of variation either deliberately or as a result of other activities

7.3 Other Ecosystem Modifications

Other actions that convert or degrade habitat in service of “managing” natural systems to improve human welfare

8 Invasive & Other Problematic Species & Genes

Threats from non-native and native plants, animals, pathogens/microbes, or genetic materials that have or are predicted to have harmful effects on biodiversity following their introduction, spread and/or increase in abundance

8.1 Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species

Harmful plants, animals, pathogens and other microbes not originally found within the ecosystem(s) in question and directly or indirectly introduced and spread into it by human activities

8.2 Problematic Native Species

Harmful plants, animals, or pathogens and other microbes that are originally found within the ecosystem(s) in question, but have become モout-of-balanceヤ or モreleasedヤ directly or indirectly due to human activities

8.3 Introduced Genetic Material

Human altered or transported organisms or genes

9 Pollution

Threats from introduction of exotic and/or excess materials or energy from point and nonpoint sources

9.1 Household Sewage & Urban Waste Water

Water-borne sewage and non-point runoff from housing and urban areas that include nutrients, toxic chemicals and/or sediments

9.2 Industrial & Military Effluents

Water-borne pollutants from industrial and military sources including mining, energy production, and other resource extraction industries that include nutrients, toxic chemicals and/or sediments

9.3 Agricultural & Forestry Effluents

Water-borne pollutants from agricultural, silvicultural, and aquaculture systems that include nutrients, toxic chemicals and/or sediments including the effects of these pollutants on the site where they are applied

9.4 Garbage & Solid Waste

Rubbish and other solid materials including those that entangle wildlife

9.5 Air-Borne Pollutants

Atmospheric pollutants from point and nonpoint sources

9.6 Excess Energy

Inputs of heat, sound, or light that disturb wildlife or ecosystems

10 Geological Events

Threats from catastrophic geological events

10.1 Volcanoes

Volcanic events

10.2 Earthquakes/Tsunamis

Earthquakes and associated events

10.3 Avalanches/Landslides

Avalanches or landslides

11 Climate Change & Severe Weather

Threats from long-term climatic changes which may be linked to global warming and other severe climatic/weather events that are outside of the natural range of variation, or potentially can wipe out a vulnerable species or habitat

11.1 Habitat Shifting & Alteration

Major changes in habitat composition and location

11.2 Droughts

Periods in which rainfall falls below the normal range of variation

11.3 Temperature Extremes

Periods in which temperatures exceed or go below the normal range of variation

11.4 Storms & Flooding

Extreme precipitation and/or wind events

Classification of Direct Threats

Classification of Direct Threats

* Overview Web Page

* Classification Web Page

* Download: PDF of Overview and Classification (457 KB)

  • )



  1. Mik Evans
    Posted January 18, 2011 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    ‘Land abandonment’ is a threat at many traditionally-managed agricultural or forest sites in Europe, Middle East and Asia. Currently we advise users of BirdLife’s World Bird Database (our sites database for Important Bird Areas) to classify this threat as 7.3 (‘Natural system moodifications > Other’), since this seems to be the nearest category, however the current wording makes it clear that Other = Too Much Management… whereas the threat here is Too Little [Traditional] Management… it would be appreciated if IUCN/CMP could alter the wording/definition/explanation of this category, to better capture this sense too. Thanks.

  2. Posted May 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    What is really behind any other biotic risks:

    If one understands the ecological principles of food web trophic levels, then one should understand that a consequence of our ever increasing population, relative to the essential biodiversity of higher life form conducive natural ecosystems, is that we’re causing the extinction of an alarming number of other life forms daily just to support our own biomass. In increasing the biomass of a lesser number of organisms to support our own biomass (e.g. cows, chickens, corn, beans, tomatoes, wheat, …), we’re decreasing the biomass of the many other organisms we’re not intelligent enough to recognize the need for, and (among other issues) increasing the pathogens that function to help balance food web trophic levels. That is, we’re systematically diminishing the biodiversity of the natural biological communities, and in so doing are destabilizing nature’s infrastructure that is keeping us alive.

    The key factors of healthy ecosystems (in the sense of being conducive to human existence) are sustainable long term productivity through extensive biodiversity to exploit all the ecological niches (in time, space, and kind), and relative stability through the overall balance of ecological processes in minimizing ecosystem state shifts. This more complete utilization of limiting resources at higher diversity increases resource retention through more thorough and efficient recycling increasing productivity, and the balance of inherently more intricate ecological processes promote stabilization.

    For a better understanding of how we are jeopardizing the shorter term state of human existence on Earth, see the article Natural World Consciousness at

    Will objective understanding or subjective beliefs prevail?

    Lee C

  3. Posted May 13, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    We apologize for not showing these messages when they were originally posted. We only recently made the commenting function operational on this site. All future comments will be posted shortly after they have been received.
    - Foundations of Success, on behalf of CMP members

  4. Kevin He
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Where would problems of habitat succession be placed? While many of these processes are “natural” they may be partially influenced by changing ecosystem balances within nature. I was thinking that they might be encompassed by 8.2, but in some areas it may be entirely natural and yet still be a threat to biodiversity.

  5. Posted April 19, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi Kevin

    If the threat is climate-related, it should go under 11.1. (Habitat Shifting and Alteration). If it is not, 7.3 (Other Ecosystem Modifications) might be appropriate. 8.2 (Problematic Native Species) might also be appropriate, though it is more narrow category. In a conceptual model, you might end up having a couple of these threats, and they might even point to one another. For example, habitat shifting due to climate change might also be leading to problematic native species. Hope this is helpful.
    Caroline (Foundations of Success)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *