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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Defining what IBA are

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;

IBA criteria

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)

IBA in French Polynesia

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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