The rigorous application of quantitative ornithological criteria ensures that the network of 187 identified sites are all of global importance. The reasons for the importance of individual IBAs, as indicated by the type of criteria that each site fulfils, are shown in Table 1. The criterion most commonly met is the one for species of global conservation concern (category A1), with approximately 80% of the 187 sites qualifying for this. Significant assemblages of restricted-range species (category A2) are also recorded at over two thirds of sites – emphasising the extent to which a high proportion of the islands/territories are containing with Endemic Bird Areas. Rather fewer sites qualify for the congregatory species groups (category A4), partly because there are relatively few sites with high numbers of non-breeding waterbirds, partly because knowledge of population size of breeding seabird colonies is less complete than distribution and numbers of terrestrial, resident, species.
A site may be important for many different species and may thus qualify under more than one category. 27 sites (14%) in the Pacific qualify under a single category while 4 sites (4%) qualify under all five categories (ie A1, A2, A4i, A4ii & A4iii). These latter sites are in Kiribati and New Zealand.
For many key species IBAs represent the minimum network of sites needed for their conservation, at the full potential of their range, distribution and population size. Of the 27 species listed as Critically Endangered in the region, 21 are present in between 1 and 4 IBAs. Of the remaining six species, the nesting locations of two are not known, Beck’s Petrel and New Zealand Storm-petrel, two species have not been located in recent survey work, New Caledonian Lorikeet and New Caledonian Rail and terrestrial IBA networks for two species, Malherbes Parakeet and Kakapo, have not yet been undertaken on New Zealand. Almost a half, 13 of the 27 Critically Endangered species, are only known from one IBA site, globally. These sedentary, non-migratory, species are permanently vulnerable to man-made or natural changes to their highly-restricted environments.
The extent to which the distribution of species is restricted in range across the Pacific can be indicated by the distribution of number of countries that each of the species is recorded. 225 species (82%) are recorded in IBAs in only one of the countries. By contrast only 16 of the species recorded (6%) are recorded in 4 or more countries, 6 of which are terrestrial species, the remaining waterbirds or seabirds.
Twenty six of the sites in the region qualify as IBAs because 5 or more species within the IBA are classed as A1 (globally-threatened, or near threatened). These sites are in Fiji (5), New Zealand (7), North Mariana (4), Pitcairn Islands (1), Samoa (1), Solomon Islands (6), Vanuatu (1) – primarily the larger island groups within the region.
There are 32 Endemic Bird Areas in the Pacific Region (12 of these are in Papua, New Guinea) and a further 17 Secondary Areas (1 of these is in PNG). 14 of the EBAs still currently have no IBAs within them (thats all 12 on PNG plus Southern Cook Islands and Rennell & Bellona, Solomon Islands), while 5 of the 2ary areas have no IBAs (Aitutaki - Cook Islands, Gilbert Islands - Kiribati, Ontong Java Atoll – Solomon Islands and PNG). Clearly there is considerable room for expansion of the IBA programme in the region.
36 sites in the region have congregatory seabird or waterbird colonies in excess of 20,000 individuals, or 10,000 pairs. These are in Fiji (3), French Polynesia (3), Kiribati (6), Marshall Islands (4), New Caledonia (4), New Zealand (6), North Mariana Islands (2), Palau (2), Pitcairn Islands (3) and Tonga (3).
40 sites (21%) are classed as containing, or are contained within, protected areas, rather below the global average of 26%.