Important bird areas (IBA) are sites identified as important for certain bird species (mating, moulting, wintering, migratory resting zones), under the scientific inventory programme launched by the NGO Birdlife International.
Although IBAs do not confer regulatory protection on these sites, they do, however, help ensure that bird conservation is taken into account in land development or management projects.
Furthermore, IBAs are one of the fundamental elements in proposals for sites of community importance (SCI) in Europe, for the creation of special protection areas under the Birds Directive. Alongside special conservation areas, these IBAs became special protection areas (SPAs) when the Natura 2000 ecological network was created.
Important Bird Areas in East Timor. © J. Patrick Fischer, Wikimédia CC by-sa 3.0