Topics > Biodiversity > Threatened species & ecological communities

Conservation status of threatened species

A conservation status is a category assigned to a species to reflect its risk of extinction. The conservation status of a species may differ depending on the scale at which it is assessed (regional, state or national). For example, a species may be endangered in one region but common in other regions and therefore not listed at the state level.


The international standard for classifying species at risk of extinction is the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. It is used as the basis for all other conservation classification systems in South Australia, other states and territories and at the national level.

The IUCN recognises seven categories:

  • extinct (EX)
  • extinct in the wild (EW)
  • critically endangered (CR)
  • endangered (EN)
  • vulnerable (VU)
  • near threatened (NT)
  • least concern (LC).


Nationally threatened species are protected under the commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Listings of these species are available at:


South Australia's threatened plants and animals are listed under the threatened species schedules of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (NPW Act).

The criteria used to define threatened species in South Australia are generally based on categories and definitions from the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, applied to populations within South Australia. The current categories and order of the schedules under the NPW Act are:

  • Schedule 7: Endangered species (including critically endangered and extinct species)
  • Schedule 8: Vulnerable species
  • Schedule 9: Rare species*

*The Rare category is not recognised in the IUCN structure and criteria have been created for a Rare category to be utilised in South Australia. The Rare category criteria are consistent with current IUCN definitions for the 'Near threatened' category, and encompass species in decline and those that naturally have a limited presence.

South Australian freshwater and marine fish, some marine invertebrates and crustaceans are protected under the Fisheries Management Act 2007. Some of these species have been identified as threatened and recommended for listing under the NPW Act but currently do not have a legal conservation status. The Action Plan for South Australian Freshwater Fishes 2009 identifies five categories for different levels of extinction risk to freshwater fish:

  • extinct in the wild (EX)
  • critically endangered (CR)
  • endangered (EN)
  • vulnerable (VU)
  • rare (RA).

More information:


The South Australian Regional Species Conservation Assessment Project is a framework for assessing and prioritising South Australia's native vascular plant and vertebrate animal species.

A conservation status and population trend is assigned to these species at a regional level using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Regional conservation status ratings do not have any legal significance.