Identifying globally important sites for life on earth: scoping of Key Biodiversity Areas

The Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) partnership is tasked with developing a map of key sites for life on earth that can guide both governments, industry and conservation partners to safeguard sites that are most critical for conservation across the planet. The goal of this project is to identify sites that potentially qualify as KBAs for each of four taxa (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians), developing extent of suitable habitat (ESH) maps for each taxon and using these to identify likely KBAs and species that trigger KBA status for each country of the World. 

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

Project Aims

Key objectives for this project include: 

  1. Estimating ESH for each species of terrestrial vertebrate assessed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
  2. Using ESH maps, identify likely KBAs and the species that trigger KBA status at for each country to provide a guide for KBA identification in each country of the World
  3. Make these maps and lists of species available through the World Database of KBAs

Key Activities

The key activities of the project will be:

  1. Develop a standard method for estimating ESH from Red List data
  2. Model ESH for the four taxa
  3. Combine the ESH maps for each taxa and develop a method for identifying KBAs
  4. Calculate likely KBAs for each country
  5. Generate a list of species that likely trigger KBA status for each country
  6. Provide maps of sites and list of trigger species on the World Database of KBAs for download

Conservation Impact

The following outcomes will be achieved:

  1. NCG groups will be able to access data on potential trigger species and candidate sites for their country 
  2. KBAs will be more rapidly identified and established through access to such information for many more species than might be achieved without such analysis. 
  3. KBA Programme will concentrate funding resources in nations with many candidate KBAs and particularly those nations where protected area coverage of candidate KBAs is particularly low or numbers of threatened KBA-trigger species are high.
  4. Donors will be encouraged to target support to KBA-rich nations where funding is limited to conserve KBAs


The key outputs of the project will be:

  1. ESH maps for each species of mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian
  2. Maps of potential KBA sites for each country of the World
  3. Lists of species that trigger KBA status for each country of the World
  4. Scripts that can be used in the World Database of KBAs to automatically calculate/recalculate KBA status for sites as Red list or population status changes

CCI partners Involved

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. It is the largest wildlife conservation organisation in...
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 Department of Zoology carries out wide-ranging work in ecology and conservation including conservation science, aquatic ecology, pathogen evolution and evolutionary ecology. Research of the...
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...

Project blog posts

31 May 2019
The following blog is written by Andrew Plumptre, Head KBA Secretariat, c/o BirdLife International and Daniele Baisero, Data Analyst, KBA Secretariat, c/o Wildlife Conservation Society (project...