Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are sites of international significance for the conservation of birds and other nature.
The IBA network is the most comprehensive collection of sites and help set the measure for targeted conservation actions by conservation groups such as BirdLife International, Audubon, and other partners throughout the world.
Some of the sites within the network of of 12,000 sites are critically endangered, or under the most immediate threat from damage or destruction. And with the decline of habitats, a significant decline in wildlife and human welfare is wont to occur.
The BirdLife International map below shows 422 of these “IBAs in danger.”
There are many ways this map can be interpreted and enjoyed. But here’s what comes to my mind…
Wouldn’t it be nice, as nature travelers, we carried at least rudimentary knowledge of these threatened habitats? What if, on your next independent trip to Panama, you pass a modest signpost that says “Serranía de Majé” but only upon your return learn that the globally threatened Great Green Macaw occurs here, along with the globally near-threatened Harpy Eagle, Great Curassow, Russet-crowned Quail-Dove, Beautiful Treerunner, Black-billed Flycatcher, and Viridian Dacnis, and probably Crested Eagle?
It would have been nice to visit what wildlife experts consider one of the most important bird areas on the globe. But more so, even if it was closed to the public or not on your agenda, knowing how special and ecologically significant this site was instead of it fading into the background of your consciousness would have been valuable. Carrying this type of place-based biological knowledge with us helps us to be more intelligent travelers. It places us square in the ecological authenticity of the places we travel, instead of being introduced to only what others have deemed tourist-friendly.
It also allows us an opportunity to give back — such as by paying an entrance fee to visit, staying at a lodge nearby, donating to the conservation partner on the ground, or hiring a guide that works there. It gives us a chance to follow the conservation progress at home and have the option to engage with the partners where and when they need help.
So take a look at this map, see what it tells you, and see if it can inform your next nature travel experience. Explore a full size map here.