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IUCN Word Conservation Congress: Conserving life on Earth

Sep 04, 2016

HONOLULU, Hawaii - Top conservation players announced at the IUCN World Conservation Congress currently taking place in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, USA, a new partnership that will map, monitor, and conserve vital places for life on Earth.

Today, 11 of the world’s leading conservation organizations announced this ambitious new partnership addressing Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) – places that include vital habitats for threatened species – with more than US$15 million committed over the next 5 years.

Through the KBA Partnership, resources and expertise will be mobilized 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 organizations 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.”

IUCN Word Conservation Congress: Conserving life on Earth
Great Barrier Reef / Photo courtesy of IUCN by Celia Zwahlen

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