Experts on particular taxonomic groups and ecosystems can participate in the KBA identification process in different ways. If they have relevant information on sites that may qualify as KBAs, they could act as proposers of KBAs either through national KBA Coordination Groups or independently. The main steps of the KBA identification process are the following:
Once a KBA is identified, monitoring of its qualifying features and its conservation status is important. Proposers, reviewers and those undertaking monitoring can join the KBA Community to exchange their experiences, case studies and best practice examples.
We invite individuals, communities and a wide range of stakeholders living in and around KBAs to join the efforts of the KBA Partnership in the conservation, sustainable use and management of KBAs. It is likely that not all KBAs will become legally designated Protected Areas but they all need focused and sustained efforts for the maintenance of the biodiversity elements for which they were identified in the first place. There is a role to play for everybody whose actions and decisions have an impact on KBAs, including private sector companies, financing institutions, governments and people visiting these sites, thereby ensuring that KBAs will continue to contribute to maintaining the diversity of species and ecosystems around the world.
National governments are among the most important users of KBA data because they are best positioned to implement direct conservation action based on the information. They may use information on KBAs for protected area management and expansion, land use planning, priority setting exercises, taking KBAs into consideration for development projects and for other purposes. They can also participate in the KBA identification and documentation process in diverse ways. Ideally, representatives of state scientific and conservation institutions should participate in the workings of the National KBA Coordination Groups (NCG), where these exist. They can contribute with their data to propose new KBAs or changes to existing KBAs and can also review KBA proposals made by others. They can provide funding to the KBA coordination group or other organisations to support the KBA identification process (e.g. for scientific studies or surveys). Governments may also choose to endorse or publish national KBA lists, once these have completed all the necessary review and verification procedures.
Engagement and involvement of indigenous and local communities and organisations in the conservation, sustainable management and use of KBAs is vital. Many of the root causes of biodiversity loss are local—power structures, land owning patterns and inequities in the way costs and benefits are shared within and between communities. Likewise, many of the key decisions affecting resource management are made locally, and many of the changes needed to achieve conservation need to be delivered locally. Local organisations are likely to include people with a deep knowledge of their environment, who understand the social relationships that affect resource use and management. People’s dependence on and attachment to their local environment means that they have a lot at stake when the benefits it provides are threatened, and are likely to approach problem-solving with a high degree of motivation. Therefore, conservation that is rooted in the decisions and actions of grassroots organisations has the potential to deliver a range of positive outcomes. An example of working at the local level at KBAs is BirdLife´s network of Local Conservation Groups, which are established at thousands of IBAs already.
Private sector organisations are another key stakeholder group operating at or near KBAs. Their activities, such as the construction and operation of infrastructure, mining, agriculture, forestry or transport, can have direct or indirect impact on KBAs and their biodiversity. Already hundreds of KBAs are experiencing high pressures from a wide range of activities, often caused by private sector operators. On the other hand, private sector actors can also have important roles as catalysers of sustainable development at and around KBAs and can support conservation and management activities at these sites. The document Guiding Principles and Recommendations for Responsible Business Operations in and around Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) is currently under development within the framework of a collaborative project of the KBA Partnership coordinated by the IUCN.
A growing number of multilateral financing institutions have adopted environmental safeguards to manage the biodiversity risks associated with their investments, which may impact specific KBAs. Among these, the IFC's Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability (2012), now adopted by the 84 Equator Principles Financial Institutions, and the World Bank Environmental and Social Framework (2016), have become globally recognised standards in dealing with environmental and social risk management. Both of these standards introduce the concept of Critical Habitats, the definition of which has significant overlap with KBAs. A number of regional development banks have also introduced similar environmental and social standards that can apply to KBAs.