|Aerial view of Comino, one of Malta's Important Bird Areas |
The selection of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) has been a particularly effective way of identifying conservation priorities. IBAs are key sites for conservation because they are small enough to be conserved in their entirety.
After years of field research, data collation and analysis, BirdLife Malta identified and proposed 11 sites in Malta for inclusion as IBAs of international importance. Five of these are of Global Importance and six are of EU Importance. A further six sites have been identified as IBAs of National Importance.
The sites cover a total area of 480.2ha, which is about 1.5% of the surface area of the Maltese Islands. This small percentage is due to the fact that most of the sites are seabird colonies located along vertical cliff faces.
With the passage of years, it became increasingly evident that many of the sites were not just important for their birds, but also harboured ecosystems with a high degree of biodiversity. Although the IBA network is defined by its bird fauna, the conservation of these sites ensures the survival of a correspondingly large number of other animals and plants.