Sites & Habitats (IBAs)

etosha National park

Key Facts

  • More than 12,000 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) have been identified to date and they represent the largest global network of important sites for biodiversity
  • Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are identified using internationally agreed criteria applied locally by BirdLife Partners and experts
  • 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

What are Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and why are they important?

Since the late 1970s, the BirdLife Partnership has 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) have been identified.

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.

Where and how do we work to protect these habitats?

Each of the 119 BirdLife Partners have responsibility for its national network of Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). The BirdLife Secretariat takes the lead on all international aspects as well as in some priority countries where BirdLife is not present and in the High Seas.

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 - the ''IBAs in Danger'', which you can search with our Map tool.

For scientific data on our identified IBAs and IBA-related case studies from around the world, please visit our Data Zone Spotlight.

The most endangered sites: IBAs in Danger

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.

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. 

Relevant Documents: 

Find out more about Sites & Habitats (IBAs).