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Identification and gap analysis of key biodiversity areas. Targets for comprehensive protected area systems

05 / 08 / 2008, Eldis Biodiversity

Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) represent discrete sites that are globally vulnerable, irreplaceable, and commonly, the last remaining strongholds for many threatened and geographically concentrated species. This document is based on the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity who have committed to assess how well protected areas conserve biodiversity, and where the highest priorities are for expanding and reinforcing existing protected areas. This manual provides practical guidance to national governments on how to slow the rate of biodiversity loss within KBAs by 2010.Progress has been made in a number of areas:

more than 7,500 Important Bird Areas have now been documented worldwide in 167 countries and territories, including new inventories for Asia and the Tropical Andes
identification of Important Plant Areas has expanded to Africa and is being planned in the Caribbean, Pacific and central and south east Asia
the Alliance for Zero Extinction sites, which hold the last populations of critically endangered and endangered species and form a very important subset of KBAs, have been catalogued globally for terrestrial vertebrates and conifers.

The authors note the following recommendations to further enhance KBAs:

beyond identification, documentation and setting priorities among KBAs for urgent conservation action, there is a need to bring the global conservation community together in recognising the role of KBAs and to increase financial resources for KBA conservation
conservation practitioners at the international and national levels should make it a priority to help embed the KBA approach in national and regional gap analysis and conservation planning
the most urgent priority is to build nationally led processes to recognise, advocate for, safeguard and monitor KBAs, and to build constituency for them. It is not enough merely to identify the sites; concrete action must be taken on the ground
over and above conservation planning, the KBAs approach and process is important in guiding decision-makers on which sites should be proposed for development purposes
the links between KBA identification and conservation, and livelihoods and poverty alleviation should be identified
equally important are initiatives for monitoring biodiversity at the national and local-scales. Without monitoring, the success (or failure) of conservation interventions cannot be determined and realigned as needed. As KBAs are quantitative targets for conservation at the site scale, they can serve as a baseline for monitoring the state of biodiversity over time.

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