Not a replacement, but merely a bigger brother Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are set to become the new global currency for site based conservation. Sites that are significantly important for conserving threatened species, fauna and flora, will now be known as KBAs.
At the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Hawaii, 3 September 2016, 11 of the world’s leading conservation organisations announced an ambitious new partnership to identify, map, monitor and conserve KBA. KBA Partners are the Amphibian Survival Alliance, BirdLife International, Conservation International, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Global Environment Facility, Global Wildlife Conservation, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), NatureServe, RSPB, Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund.
The KBA Partnership builds on the partners’ established track record in site identification, monitoring and conservation. Over the past four decades, BirdLife International has identified more than 13,000 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) on land and at sea in every region of the world through its 120 national partners and others, while the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund has supported the identification of 6,000 Key Biodiversity Areas within global biodiversity hotspots.
The new Partnership will unite these efforts under a single KBA umbrella. It will expand the KBA network to cover other species and ecosystems using the global KBA standard. These data will guide decision-makers on areas that require safeguarding and will help a range of end users to define their conservation priorities, achieve their international commitments, and comply with their environmental policies.
The IUCN has engaged with hundreds of experts and decision-makers to develop a Global Standard for the Identification of KBAs, to which BirdLife International and BirdLife South Africa made substantial inputs. In the future, BirdLife International will have a significant role in the KBA Partnership, which will include managing the World Database on KBAs on behalf of the KBA Partnership; having a permanent voting seat on the KBA Committee; and co-hosting with IUCN the KBA Secretariat.
BirdLife South Africa’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Programme believes there is an opportunity to use this all-encompassing KBA currency to highlight IBAs and their value in conserving not only birds, but also a range of other priority species and habitats. In a preliminary assessment by BirdLife International, the worlds IBAs will make up the backbone of KBAs with a significant area of IBAs constituting KBAs. While South Africa will need to obtain a lot more data on the size of our bird populations within IBAs, we have a ten year transition in which to assess which IBAs qualify as global or regional KBAs. However, there is no intention for KBAs to out rightly replace IBAs, and the IBA network will persist and will remain the main currency for birds.
The KBA identification process is perceived as a strongly bottom-up process where BirdLife Partners may choose to play a crucial role. BirdLife is now extremely well positioned to advance this work and take advantage of the new opportunities presented by IBAs and KBAs. BirdLife South Africa will be working closely with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) to assist in identifying KBAs and ensuring the IBA network forms one of the base layers for this process.
For more information contact Daniel Marnewick, IBA Programme Manager, 011 789 1122, firstname.lastname@example.org
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