Are Canada's IBAs Protected?
In a minority of cases (e.g., countries within the
European Union), IBAs
are recognized and regulated as protected areas. In Canada, this is not the
case. Here, IBAs are afforded varying degrees of
mandated protection if
they overlap with one of our officially designated protected areas (e.g.,
National and Provincial Parks, Wildlife Reserves, etc.). The degree of
protection is directly related to the management objectives of our protected
areas: some sites prohibit human access, while in others, natural
resources can be harvested, etc. While it is true that unprotected IBAs are
potentially subject to a wider range of human activities, many activities can be
compatible with bird use, including hunting, ranching, farming, and recreational
pursuits. Birds and people can and do co-exist in many cases. This is
particularly true in northern IBAs, where aboriginal communities rely on the
landscape as traditional hunting grounds.
The below graphs illustrate, on national and regional scales, the extent of overlap of IBAs by designated protected areas, and also the degree of protection
afforded our IBAs based on the IUCN
management classes of the overlapping protected areas. The results of these
analyses underscore the need for local community involvement in conserving IBAs, and the need to consider IBA values in local decision making and land-use
protection status of
individual IBAs can be viewed from site
Extent of Overlap (National)
Extent of Overlap (National) is a national summary of the extent
to which Canada's IBAs are overlapped by designated protected areas. Most IBAs are not protected:
Almost 70% (402 IBAs) overlap very little (<20% by area) or not at all
with protected areas, and just 8% (51 IBAs) are
entirely overlapped by a protected area.
Extent of Overlap (Regional)
Overlap (Regional) is a regional comparison of the extent to which IBAs are overlapped by designated
protected areas. Example: In AB, 22 of 47 IBAs are overlapped to some extent by a protected area. 79% (or
37) of AB’s IBAs overlap very little (<20% by area) or not at all with
Type of Protection (National)
Protection (National) is a national summary of the degree of protection
afforded to those IBAs that
overlap protected areas. Nationally, the extent and frequency of overlap
is split almost evenly between protected areas offering the greatest
degree of protection (~54%; IUCN Categories IA, IB, and II) and those
offering the lowest degree of protection (~46%; IUCN Categories III to
VI). See legend below.
Type of Protection (Regional)
Protection (Regional) is a regional summary of the degree of protection
afforded to those IBAs that
overlap protected areas. IUCN management categories 1A, 1B, and II
(green) offer the highest level of protection, whereas categories III to
VI (blue) offer the lowest. See legend below.
3 and 4 above)
IA: Strict Nature Reserve (outstanding
unaltered ecosystems/species; scientific research/monitoring permitted); IB: Wilderness
Area (large unaltered/slightly altered protected areas; no
permanent/significant habitation); II: National Park (managed
mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation/tourism; may allow
product removal/habitation); III: Natural
Monument (1+ rare/unique natural or cultural features); IV: Habitat/Species Management (actively
managed to maintain habitats/species); V: Protected Land/Seascape (historically
human altered; managed areas); VI: Managed Resource Protected Area (sustainable
use of natural products/services to meet community needs); N/D:
Unclassified. Notes: International designations were not considered in the analysis. There may be multiple, overlapping protected area polygons within an IBA; therefore, percentages
in Figures 3 and 4 refer to the share of cumulative overlap represented
by each protection category at the national or regional level.
The IUCN management categories are recognized by international
bodies and by many national governments as the global standard for
defining and recording protected areas.
spatial data for Canada's IBAs
designated protected areas.
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