Key biodiversity areas are places of international importance for the conservation of biodiversity through protected areas and other governance mechanisms. They are identified nationally using simple, standard criteria, based on their importance in maintaining species populations. As the building blocks for designing the ecosystem approach and maintaining effective ecological networks, key biodiversity areas are the starting point for conservation planning at landscape level. Governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, the private sector, and other stakeholders can use key biodiversity areas as a tool for identifying national networks of internationally important sites for conservation.

 Important Plant Areas (IPAs)

The IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation and Plantlife International are working in partnership with the IUCN Species Survival Commission and Planta Europa to develop the Important Plant Areas (IPA) programme in the Mediterranean region. IPAs are intended to be areas of great botanical importance for threatened species, habitats and plant diversity in general, that can be identified, protected and managed as sites.

The WWF/IUCN Centres of Plant Diversity project (1994) identified large regions of botanical importance, and the Mediterranean was among one of the major hotspots. This IPA programme is intended to build on this approach in order to identify areas that are appropriate for a site-based approach to conservation.