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Rainforest of Cocobolo Nature Reserve, Panama (Photo by Robin Moore, Global Wildlife Conservation)

Rainforest of Cocobolo Nature Reserve, Panama (Photo by Robin Moore, Global Wildlife Conservation)

The diversity of life on Earth—the entire array of plants, animals and their habitats, collectively known as “biodiversity”—is essential for a healthy planet where all life can thrive, including humans. But the loss of biodiversity is occurring at an alarming rate across the planet.

Key Biodiversity Areas, which are among the most incredible and diverse places on Earth for nature, from deserts to the middle of the ocean, are sites of global importance to the planet’s overall health and the persistence of biodiversity. The Key Biodiversity Area Partnership—an ambitious partnership of 13 global conservation organizations, including Global Wildlife Conservation—is helping prevent the rapid loss of biodiversity by identifying these places on the planet that are critical for the survival of unique plants and animals.

A young Amercian crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, among mangroves in a lagoon in Portland Bight Protected Area in Jamaica

A young Amercian crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, among mangroves in a lagoon in Portland Bight Protected Area in Jamaica (Photo by Robin Moore, Global Wildlife Conservation)

By mapping these most important sites on Earth, and providing information about the wildlife living there, private industry, governments and other stakeholders can make the best decisions about how to manage that land (or waters), where to avoid development, and how to best protect the animals and plants for which the sites are so important.

Safeguarding sites does work—we have 40 years of case studies that illustrate the value of identifying and safeguarding biodiversity. To date, the partnership has mapped more than 16,000 KBAs worldwide, conserving important populations of more than 13,100 species.

The KBA partners are: BirdLife International, IUCN, American Bird Conservancy, Amphibian Survival Alliance, Conservation International, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Global Environment Facility, Global Wildlife Conservation, NatureServe, Rainforest Trust, Royal Society for Protection of Birds, WCS and WWF.

KBAs and the Decade of Biodiversity

The safeguarding of KBAs is a critical part of reversing the current trend of catastrophic loss of biodiversity to the benefit of all life on Earth. This is especially important as the global community turns to developing targets for the next decade to scale up the protection of the planet’s irreplaceable wildlife and wildlands.

River in Lambir Hills National Park, Sarawak, Borneo

River in Lambir Hills National Park, Sarawak, Borneo (Photo by Robin Moore, Global Wildlife Conservation)

In 2010, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted a strategic 10-year plan to catalyze national and international conservation efforts and reverse the planet’s staggering loss of biodiversity. As that plan nears an end, the nations that are parties to the CBD are starting to develop new targets (called Aichi targets) for the next 10 years. KBAs can—and should—be included in the new plan as part of a critical roadmap to meet a number of the targets.

Because KBAs offer a blueprint for most effectively conserving and scaling up action for our planet’s biodiversity, they can help ensure that the next 10 years focus on the sites most crucial for sustaining global biodiversity. They can also help target the best actions to prevent extinctions, improve the status of threatened species, and halt and reverse population declines of wildlife species and loss of intact habitats.

(All images by Robin Moore, Global Wildlife Conservation)