Europe and Central Asia

Seabirds and Marine - Wiki - Europe


Marine Special Protection Areas and Important Bird Areas

Special Protection Areas (SPA), terrestrial and marine, are part of the Natura 2000 network and are designated under the EU Birds Directive (1979) for the protection of 181 bird species, subspecies or populations, including seabirds, that are considered the most threatened in Europe, as well as for all other migratory bird species and for all wetlands of international importance (Ramsar Sites).

Important Bird Areas (IBA) is a label created by BirdLife that is been used to designate key sites particularly important to the conservation of birds and wildlife – small enough to be conserved in their entirety and often already part of a protected-area network.

IBAs are chosen using quantitative, standardised, globally agreed criteria, and aligned with the provision of the SPA selection criteria. Its credibility made the IBA inventory being recognised as a ‘shadow list’ of SPAs by the European Court of Justice and the European Commission.

An analysis of the overlap of the existing European SPA network with the BirdLife European IBA network has been realised by BirdLife Europe. It includes terrestrial and marine sites and is a good indicator of the sufficiency of the legal designation of SPAs in the Member States.

Marine IBAs and success-stories

The identification of Marine IBAs will make a vital contribution to global initiatives to gain greater protection and sustainable management of the oceans, including valuable input to the identification of Marine Protected Areas.

In the frame of its European Important Bird Area Programme, that aims to identify monitor and protect key sites for birds all over the continent, BirdLife Europe has developed designation criteria specific to marine IBA so they better take into account the specificities of the marine ecosystems. Progresses have already been reported in several countries.

One big success has been, in 2011, the designation by the Spanish Ministry of the Environment of 41 marine IBA in Spain, mirroring the marine IBAs inventory elaborated by SEO/BirdLife in Spain. For more details read our article on BirdLife Community.