The Important Bird Areas Program in the Americas
The Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program in the Americas aims to identify and protect a key site network for birds and biodiversity, through joint efforts of governmental and non-governmental organizations and the public in general.
What are Important Bird Areas?
IBAs are priority areas for the conservation of globally threatened, range restricted and congregatory birds. Our data demonstrates that IBAs are also excellent indicators of biodiversity richness and are therefore also important for a wide range of species.
Why are they important?
Given that we know more about birds than any other wildlife group, IBAs enable us to identify priority areas for conservation based on a simple globally agreed to criteria. Therefore, sites identified in Asia use the same criteria as those identified in the Americas, allowing comparison amongst sites.
How are they identified and designated?
A site qualifies as an IBA if it holds species that trigger one or more of the following criteria:
- Globally Threatened Species: based on IUCN Red List criteria
- Range Restricted Species: with distribution of 50,000 km2 or less
- Biome Restricted Species: found only within a particular biome, and or habitat
- Congregations of significant numbers of birds: Sites with a high concentration of seabirds, shorebirds, aquatic and migratory birds based on global population estimates
Who implements conservation action at IBAs?
The IBA program is being implemented in over 21 countries, covering more than 2,000 sites, with the support and coordination of the Americas Division of the Birdlife Secretariat. BirdLife’s partners in coordination with local and national government and non-government organizations usually coordinate the conservation of IBAs. However, given the vast number of IBAs in many countries, BirdLife partners try to coordinate with existing local and national groups who are often better resourced, more able to engage at the site level and have considerable local and national experience. In countries or regions where BirdLife is not present, efforts are made to assist those groups keen to advance the program.
How is information on IBAs managed?
In 1995, BirdLife developed a robust database to manage the enormous quantities of information collected as a result of the IBA program. This database collects information on a broad range of topics including: species present, status of species, conservation status of area, ongoing conservation activities, research outputs from the site, management issues, threats, etc. The BirdLife Secretariat works with its partners to train them in the use of this database and its applications. The World Bird Data Base (WBDB) is being adapted to the internet and at the moment is possible to obtain information on the 455 IBAs identified in the Tropical Andes in datazone.
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