Many of the sites important for birds and other biodiversity have little or no protection, and are in a poor state and subject to high pressures
Many nations have extensive systems of protected areas which form one of the most valuable means of biodiversity conservation. Although the global protected area network is hugely important—over 100,000 areas covering more than 10% of the world’s land surface are under some kind of designation—analysis has shown there are still serious gaps in coverage, with globally significant biodiversity sometimes entirely unprotected. Important Bird Areas (IBAs) make a crucial contribution to identifying exactly where the gaps are in the protected area system. A high proportion of IBAs remain unprotected, including many which hold globally threatened birds (, ) and these are therefore priorities for appropriate forms of statutory recognition and protection. The IBA Protection Index helps to track trends in the designation of protected areas that are important for biodiversity ().
Monitoring data reveal that many IBAs are in danger of losing their natural habitats and key biodiversity. BirdLife has launched a new initiative to identify those as being at severe risk () in order to target enhanced conservation effort for these sites through advocacy, campaigning and local action.