Monitoring 2.1: Basic principles
IBA monitoring is one element of a wider framework for monitoring progress towards BirdLife’s strategic objectives and more widely the world’s progress in conserving biodiversity and achieving sustainability. This includes monitoring of species, sites and habitats. At the national level, IBA monitoring is essential to track and respond to threats, understand the status and trends of biodiversity, and assess the effectiveness of conservation efforts. Internationally, a standardised system will allow national data to be compiled regionally and globally. This should provide a powerful tool for international conservation advocacy and fundraising.
While the results of monitoring are very important for IBA conservation, nationally and globally, the monitoring process often has many helpful side-benefits too. These include, for example, creating awareness, developing technical capacity, engaging local communities and site management authorities, and building a national constituency for IBA conservation.
Ideally, all IBAs in a country should be regularly monitored. IBA monitoring information should be collated nationally every four years, in a cycle starting in 2007. This timing is designed to mesh with the schedule for Red List assessments, and for BirdLife’s World Conferences: monitoring data can be collected more frequently (e.g. annually), and this will often be useful at the national level, but regional and global syntheses will be carried out on the four-year cycle.
This regular monitoring can be done in very simple and inexpensive ways — and this is essential for sustainability. The minimal requirement is regular collection of information on at least one appropriate indicator for each of pressure (= threats), state (= condition) and response (= conservation action).
More in-depth monitoring may be appropriate, where resources allow, at a subset of priority sites. The sites and variables to monitor need careful selection. Such monitoring must be linked clearly to site conservation objectives.
Almost always, IBA monitoring will require working in close partnership with other organisations, especially site management authorities. If monitoring is ‘institutionalised’ within these organisations, so that it becomes part of their routine work, then direct costs can be kept relatively low. Extra resources will be needed, however, for co-ordination, training and reporting.
Remote sensing can be combined with monitoring on the ground to track changes in habitat extent and (to some extent) quality. This is especially useful for sites that are hard to visit or too big to assess easily. The use of remote sensing for IBA monitoring is being trialled by several BirdLife Partners. In Africa, a region-wide project is ongoing in collaboration with the European Union’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy. This aims, among other things, to test and refine remote-sensing methodology for different habitat types, and develop practical protocols that can be used by BirdLife Partners.
This approach is built on the principle that monitoring is participatory. Thus, data should be held and owned by the organisations that collect them. National results feed up further to the regional and global levels, co-ordinated by the BirdLife Secretariat.
- Monitoring Important Bird Areas: a global framework (PDF, 1.5mb)
- Report on the bird survey and monitoring training workshop (IBA Toolkit, Appendix 6) (PDF, 597KB)
- Guidelines for the Planning and Implementation of Ornithological Training Courses for BirdLife African Partnership (IBA Toolkit, Appendix 7) (PDF, 282KB)
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