An Important Bird Area (IBA) is a site that provides essential habitat for one or more breeding, wintering, and/or migrating species of bird. The IBA Program is proactive, voluntary, participatory, science-based and credible. Citizen Scientists supporting the IBA program work to identify, monitor and conserve the most essential bird habitats in our state.
Why an Important Bird Area Program?
Across the nation, a wide variety of birds, including currently common species, are in decline. Habitat loss and fragmentation, increasing land use pressures from urban sprawl and agriculture, exotic invasive species, global climate change, and more threaten to diminish both the quantity and quality of critical bird habitat throughout the state.
IBAs serve as a catalyst for creating conservation partnerships in support of, and for educating the public about those areas most important for the long-term survival of birds. These areas are an important tool for prioritizing land use options for national, state, and local land managers. Improved decision making regarding land use options will help ensure the long-term health of both common and uncommon bird species.
Arkansas’s IBA Program was initiated in November 2001 with the establishment of the IBA Technical Committee. Committee members are state and federal employees, university professors, and private citizens who represent all areas of the state. Likewise, the IBAs represent various types of ownership and represent all regions of the state. Anyone may nominate a site. The Committee reviews nominations and decides whether the site meets certain criteria based on the ornithological data submitted.
IBAs and You
IBAs are a natural focus of volunteer monitoring projects, which can lead to positive local stewardship and advocacy. Identification of a site as an IBA is both a tool for assisting private landowners and public land managers, and a rationale for preserving habitat from threats.
Support the IBA Program through citizen science and stewardship. This may include adopting an IBA, conducting bird monitoring, volunteering to help land managers, or being a conservation advocate. For more information, contact Dr. Dan Scheiman, Audubon Arkansas’s Director of Bird Conservation.
- 29 recognized IBAs.
- 8 IBAs meet global criteria.
- 42 WatchList species and 46 Arkansas Birds of Conservation Interest use at least one IBA.
- 15 Wildlife Management Areas, 8 National Wildlife Refuges, 7 Natural Areas, 4 State Parks, 2 National Forests, 2 USACE Reservoirs, and a great deal of private land are within the network.
- 6 IBAs contain private land, encompassing 43% of the land area within the program.
- 2,808,000 acres are encompassed within the program.
- Rare habitat types contained within IBAs include cypress-tupelo swamp, pine savanna, and blackland prairie.