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Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)

Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are the most important places in the world for species and their habitats. Faced with a global environmental crisis we need to focus our collective efforts on conserving the places that matter most. The KBA Programme supports the identification, mapping, monitoring and conservation of KBAs to help safeguard the most critical sites for nature on our planet – from rainforests to reefs, mountains to marshes, deserts to grasslands and to the deepest parts of the oceans. By providing the precise location of places that contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, KBAs can accelerate efforts to reverse the loss of nature, by ensuring conservation efforts are focussed in the places that matter most, and by enabling entities that may have negative impacts on nature to avoid or reduce those impacts in the places they would be most damaging. This layer shows the location of the KBAs, identified and mapped by the KBA partnership.

KBA Partnership (2020) KBA Programme Annual Report 2019. 1. KBA Partnership Annual Report 2019


KBAs are sites of importance for the global persistence of biodiversity, but this does not necessarily imply that a specific conservation action, such as protected area designation, is required. Conversely, areas not identified as KBAs are not necessarily of lesser importance. The KBA criteria have quantitative thresholds to ensure that site identification is transparent, objective and repeatable, but the availability of high-quality data differs significantly between different taxonomic groups and regions, and there is unavoidable uncertainty and potential for some degree of error in the estimates used to define a KBA. The KBA criteria do not just consider populations of species but also their habitats or ecosystems. Ecosystems are identified by the unique collections of species they sustain, so their conservation helps to ensure the simultaneous survival of many species. However, ecosystems are being rapidly lost and degraded around the world due to human impacts. KBAs can be identified for ecosystems that are globally threatened as defined by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Ecosystems or for ecosystems that are geographically restricted and therefore at risk of being lost due to unsustainable human activity. There is also a KBA criterion for sites that are fully intact in terms of their fauna and flora, where there is globally outstanding ecological integrity. These sites are becoming increasingly rare around the world as human impacts spread, with only about 26% of the world showing low human impact. Intact sites boast largely unmodified collections of plants as well as retaining their characteristic animal species – unlike many areas of formerly intact forest that appear healthy but their animal population have been depleted by excessive hunting pressures. These intact sites provide disproportionally large climate benefits to people and are the last few areas of true wilderness left on earth.

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