How key should “Key Biodiversity Areas” be?

Governments from 193 countries have committed, through the Convention on Biological Diversity, to expanding the global protected area network to cover 17% of the earth's terrestrial surface and 10% of marine areas, with a particular emphasis on areas of importance for biodiversity… but where are these areas?

To date a variety of approaches have been developed for identifying such areas, including Important Bird Areas, Important Freshwater Areas, and Alliance for Zero Extinction sites. However, these approaches generally focus on one group of species or one biome and use diverse assessment criteria. 

Building on a process to harmonize these approaches initiated by IUCN this CCI project will make an essential contribution to the finalization of a standardised and globally agreed methodology to identify the most significant places for biodiversity on the planet. This project will address two important remaining challenges: (1) reaching a consensus on the categories and thresholds to identify such ‘Key Biodiversity Areas’; (2) setting governance mechanisms that ensure that these categories and thresholds are applied rigorously and transparently.

The main outputs of this project will be a coherent set of categories and thresholds to identify sites of significance for biodiversity, covering all aspects of biodiversity (ecosystems, species and genes) for the first time, an agreed guidance on the best governance structure for the new KBA standard and a scientific paper.

The project will make a crucial contribution to the final methodology for KBA identification, which will be launched in November 2014 in Sidney, Australia, at the World Parks Congress. Widespread adoption and implementation of this methodology by various stakeholders is expected, including government agencies to fulfil their countries' international commitments, NGOs to raise awareness and advocate for conservation action on the ground, private sector to comply with their environmental safeguard policies, and donors to define priorities. 

This project is funded by the CCI Collaborative Fund for Conservation.

CCI partners Involved

BirdLife International is a strategic global partnership of conservation organisations in over 100 countries, working to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, and to promote...
The Department of Geography's research clusters focus on society and environment, development and political ecology, culture and demography, environmental processes, landscape modelling and climate...
IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is the world's oldest and largest global environmental network. It helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment...
The UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is the specialist biodiversity assessment arm of the United Nations Environment Programme, the world’s foremost intergovernmental...

Other Organisations Involved

Related Resources

Resource Title Description Type
Quantifying the relative irreplaceability of important bird and biodiversity areas World governments have committed to increase the global protected areas coverage by 2020, but the effectiveness of this commitment for protecting biodiversity depends on where new protected areas are... Journal articles