Sites & Habitats (IBAs and KBAs)

Identifying the most important sites for birds and biodiversity 


Since the late 1970s, the BirdLife Partnership has worked collectively to identify, document and protect the places of greatest significance for the conservation of the world’s birds called Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). BirdLife Partners and other experts have, to date, identified and documented more than 13,000 sites in over 200 countries and territories worldwide, as well as is the marine environment. These sites provide the BirdLife Partnership and others with a focus for conservation action, planning, and advocacy.

Because birds and other wildlife are not evenly distributed across the landscape, IBAs cover about 7% of the terrestrial and 2% of the global sea area. Conserving them through different means is a cost-effective and efficient way of ensuring the survival of a large number of species.

BirdLife Partners are engaged in a diverse range of activities at and for IBAs, including monitoring, research, management, restoration, public awareness, safeguard and the promotion of sustainable economic alternatives. IBAs are also designed to support the strategic expansion of protected area networks by governments and civil society working towards achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (in particular Targets 11 and 12), and serve to inform the description or identification of sites under international conventions.

Building on the IBA criteria and similar site designations, BirdLife supported the development by IUCN of the Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) Standard for identifying sites that contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity: the world`s most important sites for nature in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. All existing IBAs qualify as KBAs, either as Global KBAs if they meet the criteria in the Global Standard, or as Regional KBAs otherwise. The Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) Partnership was officially launched in September 2016 “to implement a programme to develop and maintain an up-to-date, fully documented list of sites identified against the KBA Standard, and to communicate, promote and position this information to enable the achievement of the KBA vision.” This partnership now numbers 13 global conservation organisations, including BirdLife and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), representing hundreds of national conservation bodies. BirdLife International and IUCN co-host the KBA Secretariat, and BirdLife manages the World Database of Key Biodiversity Areas on behalf of the KBA Partnership.

Find out more about IBAs and KBAs here:

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas 

Key Biodiversity Areas

Explore our IBAs in Danger story map