By Shaun Hurrell,
Today, eleven of the world’s leading conservation organisations, including BirdLife International and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), announced an ambitious new partnership to identify, map, monitor and conserve the most important places for life on earth.
No matter where we are from on this planet, we speak a common language: the language of nature. From Pacific reefs to Siberian tundra, nature is key to our lives, so it makes sense that this importance is recognised equitably worldwide.
Now, the environmental community speaks one new common language: KBAs, or Key Biodiversity Areas. This international language has more than 18,000 words already – that’s the number of KBAs identified to date. With more than US$15 million committed over the next five years, the Key Biodiversity Area Partnership will bring to life a new ‘gold standard’ for site conservation, with top conservation players working together to globally consistent criteria recognised by international conventions.
Through the KBA Partnership, resources and expertise will be mobilised to further identify and map Key Biodiversity Areas worldwide. Monitoring of these sites will enable detection of potential threats and identification of appropriate conservation actions. The Partnership will also advise national governments on expanding their protected areas network, and will work with private companies to ensure they minimise and mitigate their impact on nature.
The announcement was made at the IUCN World Conservation Congress currently taking place in Hawaiʻi, USA, not far from the Molokai Island marine area in Hawaiʻi – a KBA home to the Critically Endangered coral Porites pukoensis, known only to occur in the shallow waters of this site.
Those familiar to BirdLife’s work with Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), will recognise the concept, as it originates in our work to identify 13,000 of IBAs worldwide on land and sea over the last four decades, through its 120 national Partners. The new KBA Standard is intended to harmonise all such existing approaches under a single conservation umbrella, which all environmental NGOs will hold and point directly at governments. BirdLife will be managing the new World Database of Key Biodiversity AreasTM.
Patricia Zurita, BirdLife International’s Chief Exectutive, said:
“To prevent species extinctions and maintain the diversity of life on earth, it is essential that decision makers are equipped with data and knowledge on the most important places for nature. Over the past 40 years, BirdLife’s network of 120 national conservation organisations has systematically mapped and conserved thousands of vital sites for birds, providing a strong foundation for the success of the KBA Partnership. We fully embrace our role in managing KBA data on behalf of the KBA Partnership to inform targeted conservation action at these sites.”
Tim Stowe, International Director, RSPB, said:
“For more than two decades, the RSPB has been working with BirdLife International Partners around the world to identify, document and protect Important Birds and Biodiversity Areas (IBA). We are delighted that the IBA concept has broadened to become KBAs, eventually covering all taxa, and we will play our part in giving nature a home in the world’s the most important places for biodiversity.”
Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said:
“This is a vitally important initiative for our planet’s biodiversity. It will also help us reach the targets in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and allow national governments and conservation organisations to ensure that scarce resources are directed to the most important places for nature.”
You can explore these remarkable places on an interactive map at