Specific Important Bird Areas

Missouri Important Bird Area (IBA)Program

Audubon is pleased to announce that the nomination period for Missouri's Important Bird Area (IBA) program is now officially open. The IBA nomination form, directions, and frequently asked questions about the IBA program are posted on the Audubon Missouri website at http://www.audubon.org/states/mo/mo/. Hard copies of the nomination form are also available from St. Louis Audubon Society by contacting Sue Gustafson, Vice President Conservation, at 314-968-8128 or smgustafson@juno.com. This is an excellent opportunity for birders to contribute their local knowledge of bird distribution and abundance to a meaningful effort to conserve birds and their habitats.

To nominate a site for designation as an IBA, fill out the IBA nomination form and return it to the address shown on the form. Nominations will be reviewed by the IBA technical committee, and sites that meet pre-determined scientific criteria (see nomination form and directions for a more detailed explanation) will be designated as IBAs. These sites will provide Audubon and other conservation partners, including state and federal agencies, with a map of the highest priority sites for birds in Missouri, along with a detailed plan for the best way to accomplish their conservation.

The Missouri IBA program is part of a global effort initiated in Europe in 1981 by BirdLife International to identify, monitor, and protect the areas that are the most important to bird populations, in the face of increasing habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation. The National Audubon Society, in partnership with BirdLife, began implementing the IBA program in the United States in 1995.

The IBA program is unique among conservation planning efforts in that it takes a two-tiered approach to defining its focus areas. Like many other bird conservation planning efforts, we have enlisted the help of ornithologists from universities, biologists from state agencies, and other experts to identify IBAs and set the scientific background for the program. However, the IBA program also builds upon the grassroots process of site nominations by local birding groups and birders. This provides the IBA program with"on the ground" strength unique among bird planning efforts.

By defining the areas that are most important to bird populations, and strategically focusing efforts on those areas, we can have a far greater positive impact with the limited funds that are available for bird conservation. As a testament to the effectiveness of this approach, the IBA program has been adopted as a key tool in the planning processes of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, and the North American Waterbird Conservation Plan.

Again, this is an excellent opportunity for birders who care about the continued survival of bird populations to make a real difference in their conservation. By helping identify IBAs, you will be taking part in the first phase of stepping down a globally recognized program here in Missouri. If you're interested in participating, you can either download the forms from the above website and fill them out as an individual, or better yet, work together with other birders from our Audubon chapter as a group to identify sites in our area.

If you have any questions about the IBA program, you can contact Andy Forbes at 573-447-2249 or at Andrew.Forbes@mdc.mo.gov. You can also find more information about the IBA program on National Audubon's IBA website at http://www.audubon.org/bird/iba/index.html.


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