Protecting culturally significant species

The iconic species subgoal measures the conservation status of iconic marine species, which are the animals that have unique importance to humans as demonstrated through traditional activities, ethnic or religious practices, existence value, or locally acknowledged aesthetic value.


Iconic species are those that are relevant to local cultural identity through a species’ relationship to one or more of the following: 1) traditional activities such as fishing, hunting or commerce; 2) local ethnic or religious practices; 3) existence value; and 4) locally-recognized aesthetic value (e.g., touristic attractions/common subjects for art such as whales).

Habitat-forming species are not included in this definition of iconic species, nor are species that are harvested solely for economic or utilitarian purposes (even though they may be iconic to a sector or individual).

Some of the most widely recongnized iconic species are threatened or endangered.


Explore the full description of the data and model used in the Global OHI MODEL. Or, take a look at PRACTICAL GUIDANCE for advice on adapting the goal for future assessments and to learn how previous OHI+ assessments have modified this goal to address differences in data availability or priorities.

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INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR CONSERVATION OF NATURE (IUCN) The IUCN Red List assesses the conservation status of species in order to highlight those threatened with extinction and promote their conservation. Learn more