IUCN Otter Specialist Group . . . leading global otter conservation Last Update: Tuesday August 9, 2011
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  • The IUCN Species Survival Commission - the world's greatest source of information about species and their conservation needs.
  • SSC, the Species Survival Commission, is the largest of the six Commissions of IUCN - The World Conservation Union. It serves as the main source of advice to the Union and its members on the technical aspects of species conservation. SSC seeks to mobilise action by the world conservation community for species conservation, particularly those species threatened with extinction and those of importance for human welfare.


  • On behalf of IUCN, the Species Survival Commission delivers and promotes its knowledge, advice and policies to those who can influence the implementation of conservation action. Therefore SSC
    • produces the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
    • provides technical and scientific advice to governments, international environmental treaties, conservation organisations
    • publishes Action Plans, newsletters, policy guidelines
    • organises workshops
    • implements on-ground conservation projects
    • raises funds for and carries out research.


  • With the vision of "a world that values and conserves present levels of biodiversity" the SSC has set aims to achieve its main goal, that "the extinction crisis and massive loss in biodiversity are universally adopted as a shared responsibility, resulting in action to reduce this loss of diversity within species, among species and of ecosystems".


  • To reach this goal main objectives are:
    • To influence decisions and policies affecting biodiversity by providing recommendations and guidelines based on sound interdisciplinary scientific information.
    • To encourage users of natural resources to adopt modes of production and consumption that promote the conservation of biodiversity.
    • To increase the capacity to provide timely, innovative and practical solutions to conservation problems.


  • A new Strategic Plan for SSC was adopted by IUCN in 2000. This gives more details of the work plan of the Commission for the coming decade. It is available electronically on the SSC website, or in hard copy from the SSC Headquarters.
    • Programme priorities for the 2000-2004 quadrennium are:
      Species Information Service development and implementation
      Development of indicators of the state of biodiversity through the Red List Programme
      Implementation of the Sustainable Use Initiative
      Implementation of the Wildlife Trade Programme
      Implementation of the Plant Conservation Programme
      Implementation of the Invasive Species Programme

  • The Commission is led by a Chair, who is elected by IUCN members and also serves as an IUCN Councillor. He is supported by an Executive Committee and a Steering Committee. Members of these committees give a geographical and interdisciplinary balance to the Commission and provide direction to the Specialist Groups and Task Forces. They also help the Chair set SSC's policy and operational direction. Details of the Commission's organisational regulations are defined in the By-laws of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.
  • The heart of SSC has always been the more than 120 Specialist Groups and Task Forces, the majority of which cover particular taxa or groups of taxa. Others have a regional focus, and a few are concerned with interdisciplinary issues, such as invasive species, conservation breeding, or reintroductions. Where birds are concerned, SSC relies on the Specialist Groups established under the auspices of BirdLife International, Wetlands International, and the World Pheasant Association.
  • The Specialist Groups form a knowledge network of some 7,000 volunteer members working in almost every country of the world. Members include wildlife researchers, government officials, wildlife veterinarians, zoo employees, marine biologists, wildlife park managers, and experts on birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, plants, and invertebrates. SSC has defined details of Benefits and Responsibilities of SSC Membership, of Terms of Reference for SSC Specialist Group Chairs, and of Fundraising Guidelines for SSC Specialist Groups.


  • Species Survival Commission
    IUCN - The World Conservation Union
    Rue Mauverney 28
    1196 Gland
    Phone: ++41 (22) 999-0000
    Fax: ++41 (22) 999-0015
    Email: ssc@iucn.org
  • or visit the SSC website