Introduction 1: The Important Bird Area Concept
Important Bird Areas (IBAs) form a worldwide network of sites for the conservation of birds. When complete, this global network is likely to comprise around 15,000 IBAs covering some 10 million km2 (c.7% of the world’s land surface) identified on the basis of about 40% of the world’s bird species. The effective conservation of these sites will contribute substantially to the protection of the world's biological diversity.
As of March 2006 over 8000 IBAs have been identified, mapped and documented in 178 countries and at sea by BirdLife. 65 National IBA Inventories and five Regional Directories (covering Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Tropical Andes) have been published with regional inventories to be completed for the Americas, the Pacific and Antarctica by 2008. Marine IBA identification is ongoing.
Much progress has been made towards conservation of IBAs following their identification. The BirdLife Partnership itself owns/manages more than 6,344 individual reserves, the majority of them IBAs. Half of all IBAs in the European Union have been given Special Protection Area status under the EU Council Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds, over 60% of Africa's IBAs are wholly or partly included in official Protected Areas while analyses of the IBA networks in Europe, Africa and Asia have shown that 3,780 IBAs in these regions potentially qualify as Ramsar sites under the Convention on Wetlands, of which 705 (18%) are currently officially recognised as such. These studies, undertaken with the endorsement of the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, are guiding efforts for designation of new sites.
- BirdLife's Important Bird Area programme
- Tools and guidelines for Conservation of Important Bird Areas in Africa (PDF, 235KB)
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