Sites & Habitats (IBAs and KBAs)

Key Facts

  • Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) are sites that contribute to the global persistence of biodiversity, including vital habitat for threatened plant and animal species in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems
  • Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are KBAs identified for birds 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 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)?

Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity. They are identified using a standard set of criteria applicable to plants, animals and ecosystems.


What are Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and what is their relationship with KBAs?

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. All of these sites are also KBAs for birds at the global or regional level.

Since birds have been shown to be effective indicators of wider biodiversity, many IBAs are likely to be also KBAs for other animal and plant species.


Where and how do we work to protect these habitats?

Each of the BirdLife Partners has responsibility for their 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 affecting their most threatened IBAs.  This information has been used to identify the ''IBAs in Danger''. These are the IBAs most at risk of disappearing. To see if there are any near you, take a look using  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 – the majority of which appears to be  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. However, they all 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.


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