Important Bird Areas

Photo: Heather Roskelley

As the U.S. partner for BirdLife International, Audubon spearheads an ambitious effort to identify, monitor, and protect the most important places for birds nationwide.  Here in South Carolina, we mapped 1.2 million acres of “Important Bird Areas” (IBAs) back in the 1990s.

Since then, avian science has evolved.  So we’re now in the process of drawing new maps and building local partnerships to get them approved  with exciting potential outcomes for the birds we love.

New Strongholds

Audubon’s bird conservation in South Carolina focuses on several dozen priority bird species. The primary challenges to these birds are habitat loss and climate change.  So not only do we need to protect the areas where priority birds are found today.  We also need to protect the areas where they’ll likely be driven by  you guessed it  habitat loss and climate change.

The process of adding “strongholds” from urban sprawl and climate change to the IBA maps, plus adding several decades’ worth of new research data, could more than triple the original 1.2 million acres.

New Challenges

With the old map, almost every acre that needed to be protected in our state was already protected.  With the new map, Audubon South Carolina will be working harder, developing traditional and non-traditional partnerships to expand bird-friendly forests and protect threatened coastal habitat

We’re eager for this challenge  because there’s no other way to give South Carolina’s birds a fighting chance in a rapidly changing world.