Thousands of IBAs, One Map

Today, at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) in Nagoya, Japan, BirdLife International presented a map showing over 10,000 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and their protection status around the world.

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.

The new map will serve as an important tool in assisting the CBD implement its Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA). Besides a holistic view of the protection status of global IBAs, Parties to the Convention will be able to identify what percentages of their IBAs are protected, and further guide them in the expansion of their protected areas networks. According to the protection status of IBAs, only 26% of IBAs worldwide are legally protected under national jurisdictions. In Canada, only 36% of IBAs are found in protected areas.

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.