An eye for the Maine chance
Maine Audubon has completed the initial stage of its Important Bird Areas (IBA) program, identifying 22 areas in Maine as critical to state and global bird populations.
“A diverse mix of habitats makes Maine an important place for about 300 species of birds—many of them threatened or endangered”, said Susan Gallo, the Maine Audubon biologist who heads the project. “But threats like inappropriate development, chemical contamination and climate change put them at risk. By identifying the most crucial areas, the IBA program helps us focus our conservation efforts where we can have the greatest impact.”
The IBA program of BirdLife International is a worldwide initiative aimed at identifying and protecting a network of critical sites for the conservation of the world's 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.
“Local engagement is a cornerstone of the IBA program’s success in the United States” —John Cecil, Audubon’s national IBA program director
IBAs are locations that provide important habitat for one or more species of breeding, wintering or migrating birds. The areas meet thresholds for birds listed as threatened or endangered, for species of state or regional conservation concern, or for substantial population concentrations or unique species diversity.
“At this stage we focused on the most important spots on publicly and privately conserved land along the coast and major wetlands in southern and central Maine”, Gallo said. “We think this is a good starting point for engaging the public, working with landowners and encouraging responsible land management.”
“We see this as a locally driven, grassroots, bottom-up process,” said John Cecil, Audubon’s national IBA program director. “Local engagement is a cornerstone of the IBA program’s success in the United States.”
A national committee is reviewing several Maine IBAs that may qualify for globally important status. Certain sites meet global population thresholds for Piping Plover Charadrius melodus (Near Threatened), Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow Ammodramus caudacutus (Vulnerable), and Rusty Blackbird Euphagus carolinus (Vulnerable).
Credits: Maine Audubon