The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Program is a worldwide effort to maintain and improve the conservation of the world’s birds by protecting important bird habitats and integrating bird conservation with sustaining people’s livelihoods. The site-based approach to conservation afforded by IBAs is an important complement to other tools and policies intended to conserve bird populations. The IBA Program was initiated in the 1980s by BirdLife International www.birdlife.org , a global alliance of non-government, grassroots and membership-based groups in 170 countries and territories, all dedicated to the conservation of wild birds and their habitats.
Since its launch in Canada, the program has identified about 600 sites across the country, including 48 IBAs in Alberta (of which 36 are globally significant). To learn more about the national IBA program, please visit the IBA Canada website.
The majority of these are discrete sites at which significant numbers of birds regularly breed, congregate or pass through on migration. Canada’s IBAs have also been identified because they support significant numbers of threatened birds or birds restricted by range or by habitat. National IBA partners include Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada.
An Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) is:
Wherever possible, of the process of determining IBA boundaries should be a consultative process, involving relevant and interested parties, to try and ensure the most appropriate boundary is used, that it is politically supported and conservation activities in the IBA are practical and achievable be.
There are currently about 600 sites across Canada, including 49 IBAs in Alberta (of which 36 are globally significant). Explore Alberta and other Canadian IBAs using IBA Canada’s interactive online directory. You will find information about the locations, birds, habitats, threats, and conservation issues associated with Canada’s IBA network. You’ll have access to the IBA database, interactive map, desktop tools, downloadable PDF maps and more.
An IBA Caretaker is a local volunteer or volunteers who are matched to one (or more) IBA. Caretakers are community champions who ensure that changes within IBAs, or threats to their ecological integrity, are properly documented, and ideally, help to promote their resolution. A Caretaker can be an individual, group of individuals, or a local group (e.g. nature club), often assisted by others with complementary skills. Caretakers may be members of a nature club or a conservation organization, be officially associated with IBA sites as part of their employment (e.g. parks staff) or have no particular affiliation. Ideally, a Caretaker will be familiar with and situated close to the IBA, and possess the means to visit the IBA with some frequency. For some remote IBAs, visitation will be limited to once per year or as opportunities arise.
Caretaker activities vary depending on site characteristics and a Caretaker’s own interests, but can include: collecting bird data, conducting site assessments, restoring habitat, raising awareness and advocacy efforts. For a complete list of Caretaker responsibilities, take a look at the Nature Alberta IBA Caretaker Handbook.
Caretaker Networks are currently established in every province of Canada. Nature Alberta supports the IBA Caretaker Network in Alberta. Provincially, Nature Alberta recruits Caretakers, enlists community and government support for IBA conservation, and oversees the review of IBA site summary information in each province.
The primary means of data collection for IBA sites is conducted by Caretakers. Nature Alberta requires Caretakers to conduct, at minimum, one bird count per year (preferably during migration), submit the results of that count to eBird Canada and complete a site survey annually.
You can get involved with a local IBA by helping an existing Caretaker or by becoming a Caretaker. There are many IBAs in Alberta that currently require a Caretaker. Interested in becoming a Caretaker or supporting one of Alberta’s current Caretakers? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1970, six natural history clubs joined together to form the Federation of Alberta Naturalists. Today, this same organization, known as Nature Alberta serves a membership of over 40 clubs and represents thousands of individuals across the province. Every one of these individuals share a passion for natural history.
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