The Birdlife International’s Important Bird Areas are designated in accordance with internationally recognised criteria that define the global significance of a zone for the biodiversity conservation at national level. Such identified areas undergo a regular monitoring-acting-recommending cycle to ensure their sustainable preservation.
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IBA areas :
- strategic locations, within a diversity of landscapes, that are of particular importance for the preservation of birds;
- practical tools for conservation;
- chosen according to standardised criteria based on a strong biological rationale;
- sites which include both terrestrial and non-terrestrial habitats;
- places that are critical to birds during some part of their life cycle (breeding, nesting, feeding, migrating…);
- large enough areas, to the extent possible, in order to meet the food needs of the species for which they were identified;
- preferably including pre-existing protected sites networks;
- not applying to all bird species, and sometimes only covering some part of the species distribution range;
- meant as an integrated conservation approach that includes species, sites, the preservation of habitats and a sustainable land management;
The set of qualitative and quantitative criteria used to define an IBA is scientifically grounded and designed to work efficiently at the global, continental and national scales. However, at a regional level, the delineation of sites may require adjustments that would be assessed by a Technical Committee.
These criteria are structured within four main categories :
- Threatened Species (sites that regularly hold significant numbers of a species identified as threatened or at risk of extinction)
- Restricted-range Species (sites that shelter species with very limited distributions)
- Biome-restricted Species Assemblages (sites with assemblages of birds that are largely restricted to specific regional biomes)
- Congregatory Species (sites holding large concentrations of birds during one or more seasons)
Birdlife has already defined the IBA in Europe, Africa and the Middle-East. Inventories are currently progressing in Asia and in the Americas. The Pacific region remained one of the last to be inventoried in 2000.
Therefore, Birdlife instigated a Pacific IBA project totaling approximately €1,6 million, 78,8% of which was funded by the European Community. This project headquarters are located in Suva (Fiji), with national field-based programmes in Palau, New-Caledonia, Fiji and French Polynesia.
The Polynesian Ornithological Society – Manu, affiliate member of Birdlife, ensured the implementation of the project locally, with the support of the Government of French Polynesia that financed 22% of the budget of the operation ( 47 233 EUR over 2 years ).
The project lasted 24 months and assembled, under the supervision of a national coordinator, a team including an administrative secretary. It provided funding for the association’s bureau, equipment and census field missions.
The programme included the following steps :
- bibliographic search;
- consultations with experts and organisations holding data;
- development and implementation of field surveys;
- compilation of sites descriptions and production of maps;
- establishment and maintenance of a national database;
- publication of information in key languages;
- promotion of the conservation of birds, flora and fauna, through the process of IBA.
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