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Tracking trends in key sites for biodiversity: a case study using Important Bird Areas in Kenya

  • M. A. KIRAGU MWANGI (a1), S. H. M. BUTCHART (a1), F. B. MUNYEKENYE (a2), L. A. BENNUN (a1), M. I. EVANS (a1), L. D. C. FISHPOOL (a1), E. KANYANYA (a3), I. MADINDOU (a4), J. MACHEKELE (a5), P. MATIKU (a2), R. MULWA (a4), A. NGARI (a2), J. SIELE (a6) and A. J. STATTERSFIELD (a1)...

Important Bird Areas (IBAs) form a network of priority sites that are critical for the conservation of birds and biodiversity. A standard framework for monitoring IBAs is being implemented by the BirdLife Partnership globally. Scores are assigned on a simple ranked scale for state (condition), pressure (threats) and response (conservation action) at each site, from which IBA indices can be calculated. In Kenya, this scoring system was applied retrospectively using information in the national IBA directory (1999) and subsequent status reports (2004 and 2005). IBA indices for 36 IBAs show that their average condition deteriorated between 1999 and 2005, with the mean state score being between ‘unfavourable’ and ‘near favourable’. Pressures on IBAs showed a slight decline in intensity, especially from 2004 to 2005, coincident with an improvement in management that was reflected in increasing response scores. Compared to unprotected IBAs, officially protected sites had substantially greater conservation responses underway, were subject to marginally lower pressures and tended to be in slightly better condition. Other disaggregations of the data allow comparisons to be made for sites in different habitats, of different size, and managed by different agencies. This national example for Kenya suggests that the BirdLife IBA monitoring framework provides a simple but effective way of tracking trends in the state of IBAs, the pressures upon them, and the responses in place. The system is sensitive enough to detect differences between sites and over time, but simple enough to be implemented with little training and without sophisticated technology. The results provide vital information for managers of individual protected areas, management agencies responsible for suites of sites, and national governments, and can be used to track progress in tackling the global biodiversity crisis.

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