Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)

The BirdLife Partnership has, since the late 1970s, been working collectively to identify, document and protect all places on earth of greatest significance for the conservation of the world’s birds.  As a result, over 12,000 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are now recognised. Moreover, since birds have been shown to be effective indicators of wider biodiversity, the protection of these sites would help ensure the survival of a correspondingly large number of other animal and plant species.

The IBA programme is therefore a key focus for the work of the BirdLife Partnership.  Each Partner organisation has responsibility for its national IBA network, with the BirdLife Secretariat taking the lead on all international aspects as well as in some priority non-Partner countries and for the High Seas.

Data Zone Spotlight on IBAs provides more detail on the overall programme with links to a set of IBA-related case studies from around the world.

IBAs in Danger

IBAiD Interactive Map

 An increasing number of IBAs are under threat from damaging development – much of which is poorly planned and does not take environmental values into account.  The IBAs in Danger  initiative provides an essential focus for governments, development agencies, the international environmental and conservation conventions, business and wider civil society to act to prevent the further damage or loss of these sites crucial to the survival of the world’s birds.

Almost all BirdLife Partners have provided data on the pressures at their most threatened IBAs. This has resulted in the identification of a set of IBAs at greatest risk of losing their natural value.

We have developed a map tool to portray the range and locations of IBAs in Danger. These sites all face a wide range of problems, which require an equally wide range of solutions.  All, however, have one thing in common: if these solutions are not applied, these sites, or at least the key biodiversity they contain, will be severely damaged and, quite possibly, completely destroyed. 

To learn more about IBAs in Danger, check the Map tool


IBA Programme in brief

  • More than 12,000 IBAs have been identified to date and, collectively, they represent the largest global network of important sites for biodiversity. They are identified using internationally agreed criteria applied locally by BirdLife Partners and other experts for globally and regionally threatened species, species with highly restricted ranges, bird communities restricted to biomes and internationally important congregations of birds.
  • Fully 33% of IBAs lack any form of formal protection and a further 45% are only partially protected. Achieving adequate protection for these sites is among the most urgent of global conservation priorities.
  • Recognising that formal protection is not the only solution, BirdLife works with communities at IBAs to combine conservation with sustainable livelihoods

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

Programme news