Important Bird Area's
An Important Bird Area is a site that provides essential habitat to one or more bird species during some portion of the year, including breeding season, migration and/or winter. An Important Bird Area may be on private or public land, may be currently protected or not, and may range in size from a few acres to hundreds of thousands of acres. The program draws on science-based criteria and grassroots participation to identify and conserve a network of key habitats for birds. The recognition of a site does not confer any legal or regulatory status, and is entirely voluntary on the part of landowners and land managers. A range of individuals, including local Audubon chapter members, public land managers, or local residents, may nominate sites.
History of the Important Bird Areas Program
Important Bird Areas originated in Europe, in the mid-1980s, under the auspices of BirdLife International. Since the program’s inception, over 3200 sites have been identified in 32 countries. In North America, programs are underway in Mexico, Canada, and the United States.
In the United States, Audubon has focused on developing state-based programs in cooperation with state and local organizations. Audubon pioneered the first statewide Important Bird Area program in Pennsylvania in 1995. Important Bird Area programs are currently underway in over 30 states, where more than 500 sites have been recognized.
At the state level, the basic procedure involves:
1. Establishing state-specific criteria for identification of sites;
2. Soliciting Important Bird Area nominations from Audubon members, land managers, landowners, and others;
3. Reviewing nominated sites;
4. Reporting approved sites; and
5. Collaborating with landowners and land managers, and local, regional and state organizations to pursue stewardship, restoration and education efforts at Important Bird Area sites.