Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in Armenia
Provided an escalating rate of human activities and the over-exploitation of lands, habitat loss is the most serious threat to biodiversity being faced in Armenia. The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Program of BirdLife International is a response to this challenge.
The idea of identifying and protecting a network of sites critical for the long-term survival of the world's birds has become the focus of BirdLife's Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Program. It started in 1985 in Europe and spread out over the rest of the world. The program is now very active in Africa, Asia, Middle East and Americas. Almost 10,000 IBAs have been identified in over 170 countries.
IBAs are also useful for the implementation of International conventions such as the Ramsar Convention.
Although IBAs are defined by its bird fauna, they capture other biodiversity as well. They mobilize networks of people and form part of a wider, integrated approach to conservation which focuses on species, habitats and people.
In Armenia, the national IBA program is administered by the Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds (ASPB). After extensive years of field research and data compilation, ASPB has identified a total of 18 IBAs in Armenia. A large proportion of these sites are unprotected, yet they point to "key biodiversity areas" that have not been considered by the existing network of protected areas.
The selection of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) is an effective way of identifying conservation priorities and in some cases form the backbone of the newly established protected areas in Armenia.
Beginning Fall 2005, ASPB has been running a national network of IBA caretakers (volunteers) active at some of Armenian IBAs. The IBA Caretaker Network was developed in cooperation with BirdLife partner organizations in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and funded by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Funds (CEPF).
The aim of the IBA Programme of BirdLife International is to protect all bird species and all habitats and keep common birds common. The IBA Programme is thus making a major contribution to global biodiversity conservation. The main objectives of the programme are:
• Designate Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas as protected areas under National Law
• Monitor IBAs (birds, habitats and threats) to provide an early warning of problems and a feedback for conservation initiatives
• Detect and act on threats at IBAs in good time
• Collect IBA data and feed into the global World Bird Database data and national legislation
• Promote conservation of IBAs through advocacy and public awareness
• Involve local communities, conservation groups, land-user and the public
• Develop a national network of IBA caretakers or Site Support Groups (SSGs)