One of the most effective means of saving species is by conserving those sites most critical for their survival. Moreover, since bird species are not evenly distributed across the globe, the protection of a carefully chosen network of sites is a cost-effective and efficient approach to conservation because a relatively modest network can support disproportionately large numbers of species. This is what the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Programme seeks to do.
BirdLife Partners have, to date, identified and documented over 12,000 IBAs worldwide, using data gathered locally and by applying internationally agreed selection criteria. These sites, the IBAs, provide the focus for the BirdLife Partnership for more detailed conservation planning, through practical advocacy, action and monitoring.