The Important Bird Areas (IBAS) Program in Ecuador
Ecuador despite being one of the smallest countries in South America, competes in species diversity with countries several times more extensive such as Brasil, Colombia, and Peru (Freile and Santander, 2005).
In the three continental regions, as well as the island region of Galapagos, there have been around 1,583 species registered (BirdLife International, 2012), without taking into account migrant, wandering and introduced species, by which their number would rise to 1,640 species (Ridgely and Grenfield, 2001) making Ecuador the fourth richest country in bird biodiversity worldwide (BirdLife International, 2012).
In Ecuador, Aves & Conservacion as a national partner of BirdLife International began the Program in 1997. Mindo was declared as the first IBA of Ecuador and of South America due to the presence of numerous endangered and endemic bird species, in addition to other important biodiversity, followed by Bosque Protector Cerro Blanco, the second IBA of the country.
In the year 2003, thanks to an alliance formed by BirdLife International, their partner organizations, and the International Conservation, the Program of Important Areas for the Conservation of Birds in the Tropical Andes (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia) was carried out.
In Ecuador, the program was executed by Aves & Conservacion with the support of BirdLife and CI-Ecuador along with the endorsement and advice from the Environmental Ministry.
Other non-governmental organizations, institutions and individuals supported very decidedly to the development of the first two stages of the program: socialization and identification of the IBAs.
As a result of this process there were 107 IBAs identified for Ecuador, 97 continental and 10 in Galapagos. In the year 2005, the IBAs were acknowledged by the Environment Ministry as “areas of public interest for the conservation of bird species” through a ministerial agreement.
That same year, the information about the IBAs of Ecuador was published by Aves & Conservacion with the support of the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands.
In 2014, there were two additional IBAs identified after almost 9 years of the last declared IBA, the IBA 108 Mashpi-Pachijal and IBA 109 Manteles-El Triunfo- Sucre.
Important Bird Areas (IBAS)
The Important Bird Areas (IBAS) are sites that are of critical importance for birds and biodiversity worldwide.
These areas are identified based on a previously agreed series of international criteria that has been analyzed and improved through a broad consultation worldwide.
The concept of the IBAs is the result of a series of studies undertaken by BirdLife International and Wetlands International mandated by the European Commission and the European Council, during the 80’s decade.
These studies identified numerous vital sites for birds that needed special protection.
The objective of the IBA Program is to identify and protect a network of sites in a biogeographic scale, that are critical for the long term viability of natural bird populations, through distribution ranges of such species for which it is suitable to make a proposal based on sites.