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The overall goal of the KBA methodology is to suggest universal standards for selecting sites of global significance for conservation through the application of quantitative criteria.
Such criteria should be easily and consistently applied across all biogeographic regions and taxonomic groups.
We use the terms interchangeably to imply homogeneous units that can be delimited and, potentially, managed for conservation.
The KBA selection process uses four criteria, based on the presence of species for which site-scale conservation is appropriate: (1) globally threatened species, (2) restricted-range species, (3) congregations of species that concentrate at particular sites during some stage in their life cycle, and (4) biome-restricted species assemblages.
However, although the current network covers 11.5% of the terrestrial land surface, global assessments reveal large gaps in the existing network of protected areas in almost all regions, particularly in the tropics (Brooks et al. If biodiversity is to be protected, there is an urgent need to establish a similar methodology for the identification of site-based targets using quantitative criteria that, drawing on available information, can be applied consistently.
Perhaps the longest-standing quantitative, criteria-driven approach to the identification of site-scale conservation targets is the concept of important bird areas (IBAs), used by Bird Life International since the early 1980s (Osieck and Mörzer Bruyns 1981).
Restricted-range, congregatory, and biome-restricted species are, by definition, geographically concentrated, and consequently they depend on a network of irreplaceable sites within at least part of their ranges or life cycles.
A KBA network defined according to the presence of these species would therefore be expected to embrace all sites that play a critical role in maintaining the global population of all species for which site conservation is essential.
2002), biodiversity conservation corridors (Sanderson et al.
Existing systems of protected areas are rarely designed to conserve biodiversity systematically, and they often fail to include all species for which site conservation is needed (Pressey 1994).