Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) are places of international significance for the conservation of birds and other wildlife. Birdlife International’s IBA program identifies, monitors and protects these places with the help of their local partners.
How does a site qualify to be an IBA? They have to meet the following internationally accepted criteria:
A1. Globally Threatened Species: Sites with species in the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable.
A2. Restricted-range Species: Sites holding a significant component of a group of species whose breeding distributions define an Endemic Bird Area (EBA).
A3. Biome-restricted Species: Sites holding a significant component of group of species whose distributions are largely or wholly confined to a biome.
A4 (1). Congregations: Sites known to hold on a regularly basis > 1% of a biogeographic population of a congregatory waterbird species. There are three other sub criteria.
Our neighbour Malaysia has 55 IBAs making up the 12,000 IBAs worldwide. Not many people knows that Singapore has our own IBAs. The Nature Society (Singapore) and the Bird Group had identified three Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in Singapore: a) Kranji-Mandai, b) Ubin-Khatib and c) Central Forest . The Central Forest IBA is made up of the Central Catchment Nature Reserves, Bukit Timah Nature Reserves, Bukit Batok Nature Park and Bukit Brown (Google map left ).
All three IBAs satisfy Criterion A1 due to the presence of the globally threatened species. Central Forest for the Straw-headed Bulbul and the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher and Ubin-Khatib for the Chinese Egret and Nordmann’s Greenshank. They also satisfy Criterion A3 – Biome as part of the Sundaic Lowland Forest bioregion.
If a tiny urban island nation like Singapore can have three IBAs, it makes sense to do our best not to lose them. If we allow any part of the Central Catchment Nature Reserves to be impacted with a loss of diversity and the endangered bird species, it will not qualify for IBA status anymore. Running the Cross Island Line through the southern part of the CCNR may lead to such loss and ultimately an IBA.