What is the BirdLife IBA Programme?

The important Bird Area (IBA) Programme of BirdLife International is a worldwide initiative aimed at identifying, documenting and protecting a network of sites critical for the conservation of the world’s birds.  The IBA programme in the Pacific region, began in 2002, is addressing site-orientated research and action, encompassing management, monitoring, education advocacy and national and international legal protection.

Data for Priority Setting and Decision Making.

Scientific data collection and analysis play a highly influential role in underpinning the conservation and management of IBAs.  Useful for conservationists, ornithologists, governmental and non-governmental agencies, policy-makers, researchers, consultants and planners, the data presented here are intended to guide practical management and actions at IBAs and to target political and legal mechanisms to achieve the adequate protection of IBAs.

A Network of Globally Important Sites.

Through the rigorous application of internationally agreed, objective ornithological criteria, the global importance of the network of sites identified is assured.  By ensuring that each site meets or exceeds the required, often quantitative, selection thresholds, the significance of each site is justified, and the global standardization of the criteria facilitates comparison between sites at local, national and regional levels.  These criteria are compatible with those used to designate wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Contributions by a Network of People across the Region.

This volume is a product of the contributions of a large number of ornithologists, birdwatchers, conservation experts and other specialists from across the region.  More than a hundred people hae been directly involved in the collation of data and many times that number have laid the foundations for this project through carrying out field surveys of bird distribution and numbers during past decades.  In some 7 countries the BirdLife Partner organisation or equivalent has co-ordinated the work nationally, and this has generally involved substantial collaboration with governmental and non-governmental organisations through local, national and regional mechanisms.

A total of 187 IBAs in 18 countries/territories of the Pacific Region.

A comprehensive network of IBAs has been identified across many countries and territories of the Pacific region.  The effective protection and management of these sites, a relatively low percentage of the area of each country, is a realistic goal that will make a significant contribution to the conservation of many bird species and other biodiversity in the Pacific Region.  IBAs have not yet been identified for the American Samoa, Cook Islands (currently underway), Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Tokelau and the US Minor Outlying Islands, and are poorly represented in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. 

Sites Identified under Different Criteria.

80% of the IBAs in the Pacific Region have been selected, wholly or in part, for species of global conservation concern., of which there are 150 in the region.  Over 70% of IBAs have been chosen for the assemblages of range-restricted species that occur within them (those confined to Endemic Bird Areas).  77 sites (40%) qualify for waterbird or seabird species that congregate in significantly large numbers.

IBAs in the context of the Wider Environment

Increasingly, many environmental problems and threats to IBAs are regional or global in scope or origin and cannot be addressed solely by effective protection and management of IBAs alone.  In addition, many species live and breed at low densities in a dispersed, non-congregatory manner, and their populations cannot be conserved successfully by a sites-based approach alone.  It is vital, therefore, that conservation of the wider environment is also pursued in addition to, and in the context of, the protection of IBAs, through the integration of environmental objectives into all policy sectors.

What Actions need to be taken?

Immense pressures continue to be placed on the Pacific environment through unplanned developments in agricultural expansion and intensification, forestry, fisheries, transport, energy, industry, tourism/recreation and urbanisation.  This publication shows that such pressures are severely affecting many of the most important sites for birds in the Pacific.  It also shows how IBAs form a key element in a conservation strategy for the region and how, through local and national NGO-government partnerships that involve capacity building, advocacy and monitoring, innovative, locally appropriate approaches are being developed and adopted to safeguard such sites.