Microsoft and IUCN form unique partnership to tackle species extinction
Microsoft Research provides technological and scientific expertise for the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species
Cambridge, UK — 11 September, 2012 — Microsoft and IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, jointly announced today at the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress in South Korea, the formation of a new partnership to further strengthen the information available on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Specifically, Microsoft will provide a combination of scientific expertise and new technologies, to enable a better understanding of current and future extinction threats to the world’s plant, fungi and animal species, and to allow for better conservation policy frameworks to be devised. This new partnership sees Microsoft becoming the first corporate member of the IUCN Red List Partnership and formalizes work that the two organizations have been exploring together since the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010.
Microsoft has unveiled today a new software application, the first fruits of the partnership, which allows users to query and map spatial information on species-specific threats to help the Red List assessment process. This new software, developed by Microsoft’s Computational Science Laboratory in Cambridge, with design support from researchers in the DigiLab at University of Arts London, will also allow the Lab to use the data generated through this application to extend its models of biodiversity patterns and processes to define conservation priorities, and to help develop scalable measures and metrics for monitoring the health of ecosystems. Additionally Microsoft Research will provide scientific and technical expertise led by Dr. Lucas Joppa, a leading ecologist based in Microsoft Research’s Computational Science Laboratory, as well as support in hosting and communicating The IUCN Red List information more broadly.
"IUCN is the steward of a vast amount of expert knowledge and our work with Microsoft will ensure that we have an ever increasing amount of up to date and accurate information available for conservationists and others," said Dr Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. "The quality of environmental data is of paramount importance and we believe this partnership will contribute to the identification and protection of threatened species across the globe."
"Conservation action delivers results and many species have been saved from extinction through conservation programmes based on sound science," said Dr Jane Smart, Director, IUCN Global Species Programme. "The skills and knowledge that Microsoft brings to The IUCN Red list partnership will be invaluable in developing policies and conservation programmes to protect species."
"This century will be defined, not least, by whether we are able to tackle unprecedented global ecological and environmental challenges" said Professor Stephen Emmott, Head of Computational Science, Microsoft. "This will require NGO’s, Governments, universities and businesses to establish new kinds of partnerships, new kinds of science and scientists, and new kinds of technologies. Our partnership with the IUCN, led by Dr. Lucas Joppa, a leading ecologist based at my laboratory, is a pioneering example of this combination".
"Microsoft is unique in having a research laboratory combining world-leading ecological scientists and software developers. It is an approach that has encouraged IUCN to seek out our expertise and strengthen the bonds between the two organizations," said Frank McCosker, General Manager, Global Strategic Accounts for Microsoft.
About Microsoft Research
Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. More than 850 Ph.D. researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and openly collaborate with leading academic, government, and industry researchers to advance the state of the art of computing, help fuel the long-term growth of Microsoft and its products, and solve some of the world’s toughest problems through technological innovation. Microsoft Research has expanded over the years to seven countries worldwide and brings together the best minds in computer science to advance a research agenda based on an array of unique talents and interests. Microsoft Research operates in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; New York City; Mountain View, Calif.; Cambridge, U.K.; Beijing; and Bangalore, India; and conducts research at Advanced Technology Labs Cairo; Advanced Technology Labs Europe in Aachen, Germany; Advanced Technology Labs Israel; FUSE Labs in Redmond and Cambridge, U.K.; the eXtreme Computing Group in Redmond; and Station Q in Santa Barbara, Calif. More information can be found at http://research.microsoft.com.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries.
IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. www.iucn.org, www.facebook.com/iucn.org, www.twitter.com/iucn Official Congress hashtag: #IUCN2012
About the Species Survival Commission
The Species Survival Commission (SSC) is the largest of IUCN’s six volunteer commissions with a global membership of around 7500 experts. SSC advises IUCN and its members on the wide range of technical and scientific aspects of species conservation, and is dedicated to securing a future for biodiversity. SSC has significant input into the international agreements dealing with biodiversity conservation.
About The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (or the IUCN Red List) is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant and animal species. It is based on an objective system for assessing the risk of extinction of a species should no conservation action be taken.
Species are assigned to one of eight categories of threat based on whether they meet criteria linked to population trend, population size and structure and geographic range. Species listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable are collectively described as ‘Threatened’.
The IUCN Red List is not just a register of names and associated threat categories. It is a rich compendium of information on the threats to the species, their ecological requirements, where they live, and information on conservation actions that can be used to reduce or prevent extinctions.
The IUCN Red List is a joint effort between IUCN and its Species Survival Commission, working with its Red List partners BirdLife International; Botanic Gardens Conservation International; Microsoft; NatureServe; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Sapienza University of Rome; Texas A&M University; Wildscreen; and Zoological Society of London. www.iucnredlist.org, www.facebook.com/iucn.red.list, @amazingspecies
For more information, press only:
Marta Saez, Weber Shandwick (for Microsoft), email@example.com, +44 20 7067 0524
Brian Thomson, IUCN, firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 79 721 8326,
Maggie Roth, IUCN, email@example.com, +41 79 104 2460
Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/news/contactpr.mspx.