Press Release

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

September 3, 2016

Oahu Island Hawaii
"Advancing and implementing successful conservation solutions depends on clearly identified global strategies" - Naoko Ishii

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.

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 CEO"In 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."



For more information, please contact:

Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations, mobile +41 76 505 33 78, e-mail:

IUCN Congress Media Team, e-mail:




Download The Global standard for the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas publication

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."

About Key Biodiversity Areas

What is the KBA Partnership?

The KBA Partnership is a collaboration of eleven of the world’s leading nature conservation organizations that will be coordinating the process to identify, document, update and monitor Key Biodiversity Areas, and to promote their effective management and adequate safeguarding. The Partnership will develop and maintain the global list of KBAs and publish and promote it through the World Database of Key Biodiversity AreasTM.

What are KBAs?

KBAs are sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, including vital habitat for threatened plant and animal species in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. They are identified using A Global Standard for the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (IUCN 2016). The KBA Standard establishes a consultative, science-based process for KBA identification, founded on the consistent application of global criteria with quantitative thresholds. It sets out criteria for the identification of KBAs, clustered into five categories: threatened biodiversity; geographically restricted biodiversity; ecological integrity; biological processes; and, irreplaceability.

How KBAs relate to other important sites for biodiversity?

The KBA concept builds on BirdLife International´s approach to identifying Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, as well as the Alliance for Zero Extinction initiative and related approaches. The KBA Standard aims to harmonize such existing approaches to the identification of important sites for biodiversity to provide a unified list of sites for decision-makers, stakeholders and the conservation community. Approximately two-thirds of the c.13,000 existing IBAs and all 587 Alliance for Zero Extinction Sites qualify as global KBAs, while the remainder qualify as regional KBAs. It is likely that most other important sites (such as those identified through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund) will also be found to qualify as global KBAs.

What is the vision of the KBA Partnership?

A comprehensive network of sites that contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity is appropriately identified, correctly documented, effectively managed, sufficiently resourced and adequately safeguarded.

What is the purpose of the KBA Partnership?

To implement a programme to develop and maintain an up-to-date, fully documented list of sites identified against the KBA Standard, and to communicate, promote and position this information to enable the achievement of the KBA vision.

How do KBAs relate to national and international conservation commitments?

Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas will guide countries in setting up their national priorities. It will also support them to achieve their international commitments. For example, KBAs are an important element of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, namely to effectively conserve "areas important of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services". The information in also useful for the achievement of other related Aichi Targets. Parties to the CBD and other Conventions committed to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in 2011, to deliver the 20 outcome orientated Targets by 2020. Sites identified as KBAs may be prioritised for site-based conservation activities (such as the establishment of protected areas or other effective areas-based conservation measures)

The identification of KBAs will also help with the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as SDG 14 (on the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources) and SDG 15, (protection, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems).

The KBA Partners engage actively and constructively with public and private sector policy makers to promote conservation and the sustainable and equitable management of KBAs. Key policy priorities include: targeted expansion of protected area networks; support for community-based conservation and private protected areas; guidance on business operations in KBAs; and, financial institution safeguards for critical habitats.

How will the KBA Partnership achieve its vision and purpose?

The KBA Committee is responsible for the governance and strategic direction of the partnership. The KBA Secretariat will coordinate the partnership and ensure the delivery and promotion of the World Database of Key Biodiversity AreasTM, which will be managed by BirdLife International on behalf of the KBA Partnership.

The KBA Community will provide a platform for collaboration and exchange between experts and organizations involved in KBA identification, review and monitoring.

The KBA Consultative Forum will inform the development of the initiative to meet the information needs of end users, including researchers, governments and businesses.

The KBA Standards and Appeals Committee (SAC) seeks to ensure the correct application of A Global Standard for the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas and handles official disputes regarding the identification of a site as a KBA.

About IUCN

IUCN is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations. It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together. Created in 1948, IUCN is now the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, harnessing the knowledge, resources and reach of more than 1,300 Member organisations and some 16,000 experts. It is a leading provider of conservation data, assessments and analysis. Its broad membership enables IUCN to fill the role of incubator and trusted repository of best practices, tools and international standards.

IUCN provides a neutral space in which diverse stakeholders including governments, NGOs, scientists, businesses, local communities, indigenous peoples organisations and others can work together to forge and implement solutions to environmental challenges and achieve sustainable development.Working with many partners and supporters, IUCN implements a large and diverse portfolio of conservation projects worldwide. Combining the latest science with the traditional knowledge of local communities, these projects work to reverse habitat loss, restore ecosystems and improve people’s well-being.