How IBAs Help Us Reach CBD Targets

Tofino Mudflats IBA, BC – Photo by Barb Beasley

In a previous blog we highlighted how Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are used as an indicator to assess Goal 7, ensuring environmental sustainability, in the 2010 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report. We also emphasized how IBAs contribute to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) but didn’t explain how it would be achieved. Data on the conditions, threats and conservation actions undertaken in IBAs, under BirdLife’s global IBAs monitoring framework, has made it possible to measure the CBD’s implementation progress. The BirldLife monitoring framework is designed to be simple, sustainable, cost-effective, and maximize local participation and institutional engagement.

The monitoring framework’s capacity to track trends in IBAs over time was well demonstrated in a paper published by BirdLife’s journal, Bird Conservation International, in which they examined Kenya’s IBA trends between 1999 and 2005. IBA indices for 36 IBAs showed that overall average conditions deteriorated during this time. However, pressures/threats slightly declined in intensity, especially between 2004 and 2005, where increased conservation action resulted in improved management practices that reflected in more favourable result scores for that year. According to Kiragu Mwangi, the paper’s lead author,

The results provide vital information for managers of individual protected areas, management agencies responsible for suites of sites, and national governments, and can be used to track progress in tackling the global biodiversity crisis.

Another co-author, Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Global Research and Indicators Coordinator, said:

The IBA monitoring framework is being implemented globally by the BirdLife Partnership and will make a significant contribution towards tracking the CBD 2020 target that seeks to ensure that important biodiversity areas are conserved through effectively managed protected areas.

BirdLife will have a strong presence (approx. 95 staff) at the CBD’s tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) and will be leading and convening several side events. On October 25, the BirdLife International Partnership will present, for the first time, a global inventory of over 10,000 terrestrial IBAs and their protection status. It will also highlight key aspects of its site conservation approach that involves working with local communities across the globe to identify, document, monitor and conserve this network of globally important sites for birds and other biodiversity. On October 26, a Partnership Agreement between the Secretariats of the CBD and BirdLife International will be signed and a publication that shows how bird-related indicators can help to track progress in meeting biodiversity targets will be launched. For more information on side events taking place during COP10 please click here.

Nature Canada is the Canadian co-partner, with Bird Studies Canada, in BirdLife International. Together we deliver the international IBA program in Canada, which aims to identify, conserve and monitor a network of sites that provides essential habitat for bird populations.

IBAs are discrete sites that support specific groups of birds: threatened birds, large groups of birds, and birds restricted by range or by habitat. IBAs range in size from very tiny patches of habitat to large tracts of land or water. They may encompass private or public land, and they may or may not overlap partially or entirely with legally protected sites. This ultimately makes IBAs an important tool for identifying conservation priorities, and fostering greater success in the conservation of bird populations.