Important Bird Areas

What is an Important Bird Area (IBA)?

The IBA concept aims to identify and protect a network of sites critical for the long term viability of wild bird populations. This is achieved through conservation advocacy and action to protect the sites. IBA monitoring is one tool that is used to inform decision making or improve site management. Monitoring here is used to mean the repeated collection of information over time in order to detect changes in one or more variables. Currently, monitoring in IBAs is being conducted by lead government agencies and NGOs. This type of monitoring includes: waterbird populations, habitat condition, terrestrial bird populations, mammal populations and climatic variables.

Why monitoring is important

Locally and nationally, this is done to detect and act on threats in good time. Assess the effectiveness of conservation efforts and provide information on biodiversity trends. The monitoring programmes have schedules but annual IBA monitoring is the target. To ensure that biodiversity and its habitats are conserved in a good way, we need to monitor these habitats in order to understand:

  • How the abundance of biodiversity (e.g. birds species) is changing with time
  • How the structure and quality of their habitats are changing with time
  • How land use is changing with time
  • How forest structure is changing with time
  • How forest birds respond to change in forest structure
  • How regeneration affects the forest and forest specialists

Monitoring also provides a timely warning so that action can be taken. In some instances, it is a platform for see if conservation interventions are having any positive effect. It may also be used to build skills as people participate in monitoring. In fact some monitoring schemes are designed to collect quantitative data that is required to shed light on causes of change or simplify complex processes. The product of which are indices that are understood by politicians and experts alike for example understanding how state (condition) of habitat is affected by different pressures (threats) is important. And how responses (conservation actions) help reduce pressures are simple interpretations.

What can we monitor?