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Location Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway), Svalbard
Central coordinates 19o 3.00' East  74o 27.00' North
IBA criteria A3, A4i, A4ii, A4iii, B1i, B1ii, B2
Area 18,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 535m
Year of IBA assessment 2000

Site description An oceanic island between Spitsbergen and Norway. There are steep sea cliffs at the southern end, while the northern part is flat with numerous lakes and ponds. There is rich vegetation close to the seabird colonies, but tundra is far more sparse in the central and northern parts. The only permanent human settlement on the island is a meteorological station, which does not pose any threat to the birdlife.

Key Biodiversity There is a very large seabird colony at the southern end of the island with many tens of thousands of pairs, dominated by Rissa tridactyla, Uria aalge and Uria lomvia. Other notable breeding birds include at least five out of the 32 species that are restricted in Europe (when breeding) to the Arctic/tundra biome. The island is an important staging area for an unknown but significant proportion of the Svalbard populations of Anser brachyrhynchus (c.30,000 birds in total) and Branta leucopsis (c.13,000 birds in total).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus passage  30,000 individuals  unknown  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis passage  present  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis breeding  present  A3  Vulnerable 
Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis breeding  1981  50,000-60,000 breeding pairs  A4ii, B1ii  Least Concern 
Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima breeding  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius breeding  1998  10 breeding pairs  A3  Least Concern 
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus breeding  1998  2,000 breeding pairs  good  A3, A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla breeding  1998  100,000 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Little Auk Alle alle breeding  1985  10,000-100,000 breeding pairs  good  B1ii  Least Concern 
Common Murre Uria aalge breeding  1998  50,000 breeding pairs  good  A4ii, B1ii  Least Concern 
Thick-billed Murre Uria lomvia breeding  1998  190,000 individuals  good  A4ii, B1ii  Least Concern 
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle breeding  1998  1,000 breeding pairs  good  B1ii, B2  Least Concern 
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis breeding  present  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  100,000-499,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   
A4iii Species group - seabirds breeding  500,000-999,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Bjørnøya Nature Reserve 79,300 is identical to site 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Tundra  35%
Wetlands (inland) Standing freshwater  20%
Sea Sea inlets and coastal features  5%
Coastline   40%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
not utilised 100%

Protection status National None International None

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bjørnøya (Bear Island). Downloaded from on 04/05/2015

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