Scientists at the University of New South Wales led a study to create a framework for risk assessment of 20 ecosystems around the world, carried out for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
"This is one of the world's most significant conservation challenges and we really need a better system for understanding the risks to the world's ecosystems, so that we can make more informed decisions about sustainable environmental management," said research leader David Keith.
Ecosystems around the globe are facing unprecedented threats that affect biodiversity and, increasingly services that living organisms provide to people, including clean water, and agricultural and fisheries production, he said.
The 20 case studies in the research encompassed rainforests, wetlands, coral reefs and other major global ecosystems.
"Now, for the first time, we have a consistent method for identifying the most threatened ecosystems across land, freshwater and ocean environments," Keith said.