The work builds on efforts that have been underway for some time to identify important areas for nature, particularly Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), but also Alliance for Zero Extinction sites, Important Plant Areas, Prime Butterfly Areas, important sites for marine and freshwater biodiversity and others.
While KBA designation does not bring with it protection or management requirements, it can be a key tool for advancing new approaches. In particular, Canada is addressing the terrestrial and freshwater components of Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity through an initiative called Pathway to Canada Target 1. The goal is to increase the coverage, connectivity and the ecological integrity of Canada’s protected areas and other conserved areas and, specifically, to increase terrestrial protected and other conserved areas to 17% of Canada’s land area.
Where KBAs fit well with Canada’s Pathway process is around the recognition that we not only need to expand the extent of our protected and other conserved area systems, but also improve quality. In the past, many protected areas have been sited with an eye to creating the least possible conflict with resource development or other human interests. The result is that many existing areas cover less productive environments, such as high-altitude terrain, and may also have somewhat arbitrary boundaries.
KBAs can help us more consistently identify areas that have stronger biodiversity values. And they are not just of value in designing new protected and other conserved areas: They can help with the identification of recovery areas for species at risk, can help inform regional or strategic environmental assessments, and can help guide conservation investments and inform where development can occur.
The new KBA Canada Coalition is starting the task of applying the global KBA Standard in Canada for terrestrial and freshwater areas, carrying out its work in the spirit of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and in accordance with recommendations made by the Indigenous Circle of Experts.
The Canadian KBA Coalition has been initially formed by Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, IUCN-WCPA, Birds Canada, NatureServe Canada, Nature Canada and WWF Canada, and supported by Environment Climate Change Canada, but we welcome the involvement of organizations, Indigenous peoples and governments interested in the important work of helping stem the accelerating loss of biodiversity.
The coalition is aided by a KBA Canada Secretariat hosted by WCS Canada.