What is an Important Bird Area?

Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are discrete sites that support specific groups of birds: threatened birds, large groups of birds, and birds restricted by range or by habitat. IBAs range in size from very tiny patches of habitat to large tracts of land or water. They may encompass private or public land, and they may or may not overlap partially or entirely with legally protected sites

IBAs are identified using criteria that are internationally agreed upon, standardized, quantitative, and scientifically defensible. This gives them a conservation currency that transcends international borders and promotes international collaboration for the conservation of the world’s birds. It also makes IBAs an important tool for identifying conservation priorities, and fostering greater success in the conservation of bird populations.

Important Bird Areas are:

  • Places of international significance for the conservation of birds and biodiversity

  • Recognized worldwide as practical tools for conservation

  • Distinct areas amenable to practical conservation action

  • Identified using standardized criteria

In Canada, IBAs have been used to design conservation reserve networks, and to prioritize lands for acquisition. They have also been used by governments in assessing impacts and establishing guidelines for proposed development projects.


Double-crested Cormorants
Photo: © Margaret Cuthbert

A place to admire!
Photo: © Shutterstock
The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada.
   © Bird Studies Canada