BirdLife International has invested in the development of an information-management tool to support the activities of the Partnership for over 15 years. Known as the World Bird Database (WBDB), development started in 1993, with work on the current IBA module starting in 1994. Since 1998 the database has been revised and extended (thanks to funds from the RSPB) so that it now covers species as well as sites. The IBA module underpins much of what appears in this document and contains additional information that could not be published here due to space constraints.
The World Bird Database provides the data-management tool for BirdLife’s scientific data – in particular, data on IBAs and species of global conservation concern. It forms the basis of publications such as Threatened Birds of the World (BirdLife International 2000) and Important Bird Areas in Africa and associated islands: Priority sites for conservation (Fishpool and Evans, eds 2001). For IBAs, data are included on site characteristics, habitats, land-uses, threats, species present, IBA criteria met, and text accounts across a number of themes. For species, data are stored on characteristics, range, population numbers, habitat use (including relative importance and seasonal use), threats (including timing, scope, severity and impact) and targets for future action.
Key benefits of the World Bird Database are the ability to:
· Manage and validate a large volume of information on sites and species that are of global conservation concern
· Analyse trends in data and monitor changes
· Link site data with species data
· Determine the conservation status of species
· Produce focused, targeted, reports for scientific purposes
· Improve the sharing of information between partners
· Improve electronic links to non-BirdLife data and information, such as socio-economic and non-bird data, for use in analyses
· Link to geographic information systems (GIS) for presentation and analysis
· Deliver information over the internet
The World Bird Database is a two-way distribution channel, enabling data to flow between the people who collect the data or update it, those who collate and verify it, and those who make the analyses that turn data into information and targets, in order to influence policy and decision-making – moving from science to conservation action.