Top conservation players unite to map, monitor and conserve vital places for life on earth

Hawaii, 3 September 2016: Today, 11 of the world’s leading conservation organisations announced an ambitious new partnership to identify, map, monitor and conserve Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) – places that include vital habitats for threatened species – with more than US$15 million committed over the next five years.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The announcement was made at the IUCN World Conservation Congress currently taking place in Hawaiʻi, USA.

Through the KBA Partnership, resources and expertise will be mobilised to further identify and map Key Biodiversity Areas worldwide. Monitoring of these sites will enable detection of potential threats and identification of appropriate conservation actions. The Partnership will also advise national governments in expanding their protected areas network, and will work with private companies to ensure they minimize and mitigate their impact on nature.

This is a vitally important initiative for our planet’s biodiversity,” says Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.  “This partnership will enhance global conservation efforts by highlighting internationally important sites in need of urgent conservation action. It will also help us reach the targets in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and allow national governments and conservation organisations to ensure that scarce resources are directed to the most important places for nature.”   

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has engaged with hundreds of experts and decision-makers to develop a Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas. The Standard will also be launched during the World Conservation Congress, on Monday 5 September.

Our planet is at the crossroads and we need to take urgent action if we want to secure its ability to support us,” says Inger Andersen, Director General of IUCN. “Information about where and why a site is considered key for the survival of threatened species underpins all sustainable development and will be critical for achieving Sustainable Development Goals.”

In particular, knowledge about Key Biodiversity Areas will contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14 – on the conservation and sustainable use the oceans - and Goal 15 – to manage forests, combat desertification, and halt land degradation

The KBA Partnership builds on the partners’ established track record in site identification, monitoring and conservation.  Over the past four decades, BirdLife International has identified more than 13,000 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) on land and at sea in every region of the world through its 120 national partners and others, while the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund has supported the identification of 6,000 Key Biodiversity Areas within global biodiversity hotspots.

To date, more than 18,000 global and regional Key Biodiversity Areas have been identified and mapped. These include Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia – where the last known population of the Critically Endangered Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) lives – and the Molokai Island marine area in Hawaiʻi – home to the Critically Endangered coral Porites pukoensis, known only to occur in the shallow waters of this site.

The new Partnership will unite these efforts under a single KBA umbrella. It will expand the KBA network to cover other species and ecosystems using the global KBA standard. These data will guide decision-makers on areas that require safeguarding and will help a range of end users to define their conservation priorities, achieve their international commitments, and comply with their environmental policies. 

KBA Partners are the Amphibian Survival Alliance, BirdLife International, Conservation International, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Global Environment Facility, Global Wildlife Conservation, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), NatureServe, RSPB, Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund.

Advancing and implementing successful conservation solutions depends on clearly identified global strategies,” says Naoko Ishii, Global Environment Facility CEOIn this regard, we are proud to be one of the founding members of this exciting new partnership to help map and protect some of the planet's most valuable biodiversity.”

KBA Partner Quotes

Helen Meredith, Executive Director, Amphibian Survival Alliance

"Habitat destruction is the greatest threat to amphibians globally, so the Amphibian Survival Alliance is hugely supportive of the KBA Partnership as a means of identifying and safeguarding crucial locations for threatened amphibians around the world".

Patricia Zurita, BirdLife International

To prevent species extinctions and maintain the diversity of life on earth, it is essential that decision makers are equipped with data and knowledge on the most important places for nature. Over the past 40 years, BirdLife’s network of 120 national conservation organisations has systematically mapped and conserved thousands of vital sites for birds, providing a strong foundation for the success of the KBA Partnership. We fully embrace our role in managing KBA data on behalf of the KBA Partnership to inform targeted conservation action at these sites. ”

M. Sanjayan, Conservation International

The nature that people around the world rely on for food, freshwater and livelihoods has its foundation in biodiversity. The KBA partnership is a strategy for setting priorities around the nature we must protect to conserve biodiversity as well as vital ecosystem services and natural capital, the very bedrock that moves our world forward. Conservation International is honoured to be part of such an innovative group and committed to protecting these crucial areas.”

Olivier Langrand, Executive Director, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund

CEPF is proud to be part of the conservation community promoting KBA as a global standard to effectively conserve biodiversity. The KBA approach guarantees that the most valuable biodiversity areas are registered, and conservation is implemented and monitored for the benefit of nature and human well-being.”

Wes Sechrest, chief scientist and CEO, Global Wildlife Conservation.

"Humankind is at a critical point in our efforts to protect the diversity of life on our planet, both for its own sake and for the long-term health and well-being of humans. The KBA initiative will, for the first time ever, quantitatively measure and map where the most important areas are for maintaining biodiversity on Earth. These are the kinds of ambitious efforts that preserve our vital connections to wildlife and wild places, including those connections that we have yet to fully understand.”

Leslie Honey, Vice President for Conservation Services for NatureServe,

The NatureServe Network is thrilled to contribute our biodiversity data and expertise to the KBA partnership. The partnership’s collective ability to work with stakeholders to identify, map, and monitor these sites provides an important bridge between knowledge and action, helping decision-makers and stakeholders conserve the most important places for life on earth

Tim Stowe, International Director, RSPB

For more than two decades, the RSPB has been working with BirdLife International Partners around the world to identify, document and protect Important Birds and Biodiversity Areas (IBA). We are delighted that the IBA concept has broadened to become KBAs, eventually covering all taxa, and we will play our part in giving nature a home in the world's the most important places for biodiversity."

John Robinson, Chief Conservation Officer, Wildlife Conservation Society

"It will take a collective effort to identify where biological diversity is found around the world, and a collective effort to protect those places.  WCS will be a long term part of that effort."

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International

All life on Earth, including us, depends on a healthy planet, yet biodiversity is falling sharply - in less than two generations, vertebrate populations worldwide have declined by half. By working together to identify and conserve the world’s most vital natural places, we can benefit both people and nature. KBAs will offer an invaluable tool for good planning and development, ensuring respect for the natural infrastructure that supports our society, economy and wellbeing.”


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