Sites and Habitats

Conserving Areas

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)

Patterns of biodiversity distribution are such that it is often possible to select sites that support many different species. Therefore, safeguarding habitats at specific sites is one of the most effective conservation strategies for combating the biodiversity crisis in the world. These sites are carefully identified on the basis of the biodiversity numbers and species they hold and are called Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBBAs). BirdLife defines IBBAs as sites of international significance for the conservation of the world’s birds and other biodiversity. Globally, over 13,000 IBBA’s have been identified and designated worldwide. The IBBA’s concept is one of bird conservation’s cornerstones which identifies all priority sites for bird conservation on the basis of objective criteria identifying presence of key bird species and populations. This concept was developed and has been championed by BirdLife International since 1985, building on and feeding into various key legislative concepts such as Ramsar Sites and the European Bird Directive, now incorporated into Natura 2000. Zambia has a network of 42 IBAs which were identified using the globally standardised, quantitative and scientifically agreed criteria. Zambia’s IBA network was designed over 20 years ago, and published in 2005 (Leonard 2005). No updates – other than the species lists (Willems & Leonard 2019) – have been carried out since. The IBA concept has been instrumental in informing decisions to design sound conservation projects that have significantly contributed to protecting these areas and the vast biodiversity they hold. However, much has since changed since the publication of the Important Bird Areas of Zambia book in 2005, creating an urgent need for updating these sites. This includes adjustments in criteria and the implementation of those at international levels, to changes in Red List status of birds (and consequently the relevant “trigger species” for IBA designation), as well as improved insights on key bird populations within and outside designated IBAs.

Over the last decade or so, the global Important Bird Areas (IBA’s) network has steadily been absorbed into the framework of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA), with all existing IBAs automatically qualifying as KBAs (referred to as Legacy KBAs). KBAs are sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity. The KBA concept is based on all biodiversity values, including all groups of species (not only birds) as well as incorporating criteria related to ecosystems. It is important and a global priority that countries implement programmes that reassess these legacy KBA sites against the KBA Standard and identify new KBAs, taking into account additional taxa and ecosystems. In Zambia, the 42 KBAs have been recognised by virtue of them automatically qualifying from IBAs. However, these sites need to be assessed using the KBA guidelines, criteria and threshold in a Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (IUCN, 2016). These guidelines should be closely followed in designating Zambia’s KBAs, with the recognition that the need for scientific objectivity and standardisation has to be balanced by common sense and practical objectives. IUCN has established and recognizes 5 KBA criteria (A-E) with thresholds to be followed for the selection and identification of KBAs under each criterion.

Follow the link to read more about the selection criterion of Key Biodiversity Areas here

BWZ Key Biodiversity Areas Programme

During an introductory KBA workshop held in 2021 and attended by major stakeholders and interest groups in KBAs, BirdWatch Zambia (BWZ) was identified as the best placed party to spearhead an evaluation and update of the IBA/KBA network, in close collaboration with the National Biodiversity Steering Group. The overall objective of this programme is to assess the current status of Zambia’s IBAs/KBAs and investigate the status of biodiversity (other than birds) in order to inform development and management decisions in Key Biodiversity Areas and ensure Zambia adequately contributes to meeting the Global Biodiversity Framework and vision 2050 targets. The assessment of these sites seeks to keep an updated record of the Status of Zambia’s IBAs/KBAs. Apart from the Mafinga KBA, no such assessment has been done for any of Zambia’s sites. Currently, there are 643 trigger bird species, 1 amphibian species, 5 mammals and 3 plant species within the 42 KBAs, with 21.43% of the area completely covered by protected areas, 45.24% covered by partial protection and 33.33% with no protection. Zambia has relatively high levels of habitat remaining, providing great potential for Key Biodiversity Areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs). OECMs are a conservation designation for areas achieving the effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity outside of protected areas. Through routine monitoring of some IBAs, BWZ is aware of the threats in these areas and uses that information to design suitable interventions to combat or mitigate the threats. The monitoring is not done in isolation but as a joint activity with relevant stakeholders in each IBA/KBA. BWZ also conducts training using the BirdLife International adopted ‘State-Pressure-Trends and Response’ model. The training not only develops capacity within partner institutions but also ensures the sustenance of the monitoring programme. As a result of this programme BWZ has strengthened its collaboration with both Civil Society Organization (CSO) and government departments and agencies including; Forestry Department (FD), Department of National Park and Wildlife (DNPW), National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC), Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock through the Department of Fisheries (DoF) and District Councils. In addition, BWZ has also sustained and strengthened collaboration with relevant civil society groups, Site Support Groups (SSGs) and communities in the KBAs.

- Habitat conservation and restoration -

Invasive Species Control

An invasive species is an organism that is not indigenous, or native, to a particular area – introduced outside their natural or past distribution. Invasive species have long been known to be a major contributor to global biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, and deterioration of ecosystem services around the world. Invasive species are the second most significant cause of species extinctions worldwide, after habitat loss (IUCN, 2014). In the last 500 years, species like rats, cats and mice have driven more than 70 bird species to extinction. They remain one of the greatest threats to our natural world. The BirdLife Invasive Alien Species programme unites the world’s largest Partnership of national non-governmental nature conservation organisations to tackle the global extinction crisis.

BWZ has been developing and sharing expertise to tackle invasive alien species within Zambia. We’re controlling exotic alien species at sites where they constitute a major conservation problem, and implementing locally-led biosecurity measures to ensure they don’t return. Together we’re calling for more effective national, regional and international policies to address non-native invasive species.

We are involved in;

  • Documenting primary drivers for invasive species.
  • Designing, implementing and sharing techniques to control and eradicate invasive alien species.
  • Expanding invasive species control efforts to multiple sites under threat.

WWF Funded Mimosa pigra Control on the Barotse Floodplains

The proposed project seeks to control the invasive Mimosa pigra, support student research and introduce citizen science as a measure of monitoring habitat and species within the Barotse Floodplain. This will therefore secure the ecological integrity of aquatic habitat and associated bird species of the Barotse Floodplains. The approaches of this project are: (1) the control of the spread of Mimosa pigra on the Barotse floodplains; (2) establish a long term monitoring system for the Upper Zambezi landscape in order to improve conditions for biodiversity and livelihoods.

​​Mimosa pigra poses numerous threats on the ecological, and socio-economic activities of the Barotse floodplains, as has been observed in many areas where it has been introduced. The tall stand of Mimosa decreases native biodiversity and threatens the rich wildlife associated with open habitats. Ecosystem modifications caused by Mimosa pigra have reduced native resources accessible for traditional use, pastoral grazing, and ecotourism ventures presented by the Barotse floodplains. This is a 1 year 8 months project running from May 2022 to December 2023.

WWF Funded Salvinia molesta Control on the Lukanga Swamps

The overall goal of the project is to control invasive species on the Lukanga Swamps, thereby improving conditions for biodiversity and livelihoods. This will be achieved through a mixed approach which will include biological control of the invasive Salvinia molesta using the host specific Cyrtobagous salviniae, awareness raising, introduction of safeguard measures to ensure sustainability, support access to resources as well as improved habitat conditions.

This is a continuation project designed to upscale the efforts of the control of Salvinia molesta by using lessons learnt to improve and expand the model. The project will also be contributing to delivering interventions proposed in the recently launched management plan for the Lukanga swamps. This is a 1 year project running from November 2022 to November  2023.

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