The Process of Becoming an Important Bird Area


How does an area become an IBA?

Any area that meets one or more of the four scientific criteria (see below) can be nominated as an IBA, at which point it will be reviewed by the state IBA Technical Committee. This committee consists of representatives of the partner organizations, other members of the environmental community, and the birding community. The committee considers each nomination in light of the available data and in light of the area’s importance in the broader statewide context.

The four principle IBA criteria are summarized as follows, see below for more details:

  1. Areas consistently supporting significant numbers of endangered or threatened species (as identified by state and federal law)
  2. Areas consistently supporting bird species assemblages characteristic of representative, rare, threatened, or unique habitat types within the state. Included in this category are areas supporting significant numbers of bird species of high conservation priority in New Hampshire (as identified by state and regional conservation planning)
  3. Areas where birds congregate in significant numbers during the breeding season, winter, or migration
  4. Areas important for long-term bird research or monitoring projects that contribute substantially to ornithology and/or bird conservation (this is treated as a supplemental criterion, in that a site cannot be an IBA based on it alone)

“Significant” in the above criteria can be defined to include at least 1% of the state population (categories 1 and 2), or actual numbers above pre-established thresholds (category 3).


IBA Criteria and Nomination Form

If you are interested in nominating an IBA, please review the following specific criteria and fill in the nomination form.


What happens after an area is accepted as an IBA?

Once an area is recognized as an IBA, the recognition can aid future conservation in a number of ways:

    1. Increased awareness of an area’s ornithological value can galvanize land conservation efforts. Examples include ongoing acquisitions at the Pondicherry Refuge and the purchase of 500 acres of riverfront property in Canterbury, within the Merrimack River Corridor IBA.
    2. Whether land within an IBA is conserved or not, the data gathered to support an IBA’s nomination can potentially direct future management of the area to maximize its value to rare or representative bird species. Landowners newly aware of their property’s wildlife value may adopt stewardship activities that benefit the species that occur there.
    3. There are very few places in the state where we have comprehensive data on bird populations. Identifying an area as an IBA can increase interest in leaning more about the species that occur there. This can result in volunteer inventory and/or monitoring efforts, or even generate funding to conduct comprehensive survey work. More detailed data can in turn inform better management as mentioned above.
    4. Even if the designation does not lead directly to conservation, management, or research at an IBA, publicity related to an area can generate increased public interest and awareness for bird conservation. The IBA program hopes to spread the word through existing nature centers, birding trails, and other outreach avenues already existing or planned in New Hampshire.

Beyond the borders of New Hampshire, IBAs identified here will be evaluated on the continental scale using similar criteria. North American IBAs are then “advanced” to the final level for consideration as Globally Important Bird Areas. The latter are generally restricted to areas that support exceptional concentrations of migratory birds, high numbers of rare or endemic species, or particularly good representations of regional bird communities.