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European IBA categories and criteria

Twenty IBA criteria have been developed for the selection of IBAs in Europe. These allow the identification of IBAs, based on a site’s international importance for:

  • Threatened bird species
  • Congregatory bird species
  • Assemblages of restricted-range bird species
  • Assemblages of biome-restricted bird species
  • Criteria have been developed such that, by applying different (‘staggered’) numerical thresholds, the international importance of a site for a species may be categorized at three distinct geographical levels:
  • Global (‘A’ criteria)
  • European (‘B’ criteria)
  • European Union (‘C’ criteria)

A: Global
A1. Species of global conservation concern
The site regularly holds significant numbers of a globally threatened species, or other species of global conservation concern.

A2. Restricted-range species
The site is known or thought to hold a significant component of the restricted-range species whose breeding distributions define an Endemic Bird Area (EBA) or Secondary Area (SA).

A3. Biome-restricted species
The site is known or thought to hold a significant assemblage of the species whose breeding distributions are largely or wholly confined to one biome.

A4. Congregations
i. The site is known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, ≥ 1% of a biogeographic population of a congregatory waterbird species.  
ii. The site is known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, ≥ 1% of the global population of a congregatory seabird or terrestrial species. 
iii. The site is known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, ≥ 20,000 waterbirds or ≥ 10,000 pairs of seabird of one or more species. 
iv. The site is known or thought to be a ‘bottleneck’ site where at least 20,000 storks (Ciconiidae), raptors (Accipitriformes and Falconiformes) or cranes (Gruidae) regularly pass during spring or autumn migration. 
 
B: European
B1.
Congregations
i. The site is known or thought to hold ≥ 1% of a flyway or other distinct population of a waterbird species. 
ii. The site is known or thought to hold ≥ 1% of a distinct population of a seabird species. 
iii. The site is known or thought to hold ≥ 1% of a flyway or other distinct population of other congregatory species. 
iv. The site is a ‘bottleneck’ site where over 5,000 storks, or over 3,000 raptors or cranes regularly pass on spring or autumn migration. 
 
B2. Species with an unfavourable conservation status in Europe
The site is one of the 'n' most important in the country for a species with an unfavourable conservation status in Europe (SPEC 2, 3) and for which the site-protection approach is thought to be appropriate.

B3. Species with a favourable conservation status in Europe
The site is one of the 'n' most important in the country for a species with a favourable conservation status in Europe but concentrated in Europe (SPEC 4) and for which the site-protection approach is thought to be appropriate.

C: European Union
C1.
Species of global conservation concern
The site regularly holds significant numbers of a globally threatened species, or other species of global conservation concern.

C2.
Concentrations of a species threatened at the European Union level
The site is known to regularly hold at least 1% of a flyway population or of the EU population of a species threatened at the EU level (listed on Annex I and referred to in Article 4.1 of the EC Birds Directive).

C3.
Congregations of migratory species not threatened at the EU level
The site is known to regularly hold at least 1% of a flyway population of a migratory species not considered threatened at the EU level (as referred to in Article 4.2 of the EC Birds Directive) (not listed on Annex I).

C4.
Congregatory – large congregations
The site is known to regularly hold at least 20,000 migratory waterbirds and/or 10,000 pairs of migratory seabirds of one or more species.

C5.
Congregatory – bottleneck sites
The site is a ‘bottleneck’ site where at least 5,000 storks (Ciconiidae) and/or at least 3,000 raptors (Accipitriformes and Falconiformes) and/or 3,000 cranes (Gruidae) regularly pass on spring or autumn migration.

C6.
Species threatened at the European Union level
The site is one of the five most important in the European region (NUTS region) in question for a species or subspecies considered threatened in the European Union (i.e. listed in Annex I of the EC Birds Directive).

C7.
Other ornithological criteria
The site has been designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) or selected as a candidate SPA based on ornithological criteria (similar to but not equal to C1–C6) in recognized use for identifying SPAs.