Photo: Mark Peck
Many of America’s most beloved and biologically rich landscapes are in grave danger. The power of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) cannot be overstated. Audubon is leading the way to protect these iconic places and the birds that depend on them, and mobilizing our network of chapters to act as stewards.
Birds depend on a diverse range of habitats, and the threats that confront them are equally varied. Grasslands are being replaced by residential development. Forests disappear through the overharvesting of timber. Badly planned energy development has grim consequences for many bird species and other wildlife.
Audubon spearheads an ambitious effort to identify, monitor, and protect the most important places for birds. To date Audubon has identified more than 2,700 IBAs covering almost 400 million acres of public and private lands in the United States. In Wisconsin alone there are 92 IBAs covering more than 3.2 million acres. The Richard Bong State Recreation Area is one example, recognized for its grassland bird habitat.
Each priority site requires a specific conservation plan. Audubon relies on local stewardship and focuses on engaging individuals, private landowners, local communities, businesses, partner organizations, and government agencies in site conservation.
This approach works: IBA status is now formally factored into state agency land-use planning in a number of states. IBAs are also recognized by major utility grid planners and federal agencies.
This conservation approach is both powerful and simple: By identifying and protecting the most important places for birds, we can save species and preserve our natural heritage.