Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)

  • The 12,000 IBAs represent the largest global network of important sites for biodiversity. They are identified using internationally agreed criteria applied by local experts
  • IBAs are the sites needed to ensure the survival of viable populations of most of the world’s bird species. They hold a large and representative proportion of other biodiversity too.
  • Only 40% of IBAs have any form of protection. Protecting the rest is among the most urgent of global conservation priorities.
  • Recognising that formal protection can disadvantage local people, BirdLife works with communities at IBAs to combine conservation with sustainable livelihoods.

BirdLife’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) Programme aims to identify, monitor and protect a global network of IBAs for the conservation of the world's birds and other wildlife. BirdLife Partners take responsibility for the IBA Programme nationally, with the BirdLife Secretariat taking the lead on international aspects and in some priority non-Partner countries.

Birds have been shown to be effective indicators of biodiversity in other animal groups and plants – especially when used to define a set of sites for conservation. So although the IBA network is defined by its bird fauna, the conservation of these sites would ensure the survival of a correspondingly large number of other animals and plants.

Since IBAs are identified, monitored and protected by national and local organisations and individuals, working on the ground, the IBA Programme can be a powerful way to build national institutional capacity and to set an effective conservation agenda: it is far more than a technical research exercise. Over 12,000 sites in some 200 countries and territories have been identified as Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas.

Data Zone Spotlight on IBAs gives the latest case studies from around the world.

Find out more about Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs).

Programme news