Return to the list of discussions...

Question 2.2

Forum closed. No more comments will be accepted on this forum.
BirdLife International Important Bird Areas Programme [#398]
The function of the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) programme of BirdLife International is

“To identify and protect a network of sites, at a biogeographic scale, critical for the long-term viability of naturally occurring bird populations, across the range of those bird species for which a sites-based approach is appropriate”

IBAs are chosen using quantitative, standardised, globally agreed criteria. The selection of IBAs has been a particularly effective way of identifying conservation priorities. IBAs are key sites for conservation – small enough to be conserved in their entirety and often already part of a protected-area network. They do one (or more) of three things:

• Hold significant numbers of one or more globally threatened species
• Are one of a set of sites that together hold a suite of restricted-range species or biome-restricted species
• Have exceptionally large numbers of migratory or congregatory species

Following the success of the IBA programme in setting priorities and focusing conservation action in the terrestrial and freshwater realms, BirdLife is extending and adapting the IBA programme to the marine environment and has begun to identify marine IBAs (

Work by a selection of BirdLife Partners has helped to determine the best methodologies for identifying and delimiting IBAs at sea. The pioneering work undertaken in Europe has been standardised to develop guidance on identification of at-sea sites, and this is now being applied across the wider BirdLife Partnership, from Asia to the Americas.

The BirdLife Secretariat is leading on the identification of high seas IBAs, applying the same standard methods used in territorial waters, and using the Tracking Ocean Wanderers (TOW) dataset to provide a first cut of high seas sites. The TOW dataset included remote sensing tracks for 28 species of albatross and petrel, provided by 57 scientists from 11 countries, making it perhaps the most comprehensive dataset on marine top predators available. Having such a wide variety of species included, and a global coverage, provides a unique opportunity for analysis to identify a network of key sites for protection on the high seas. The TOW pdf can be accessed here (
(edited on 2009-05-19 13:44 UTC by Mr ben Lascelles)
posted on 2009-05-19 13:17 UTC by Mr ben Lascelles, BirdLife International

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme