Important Bird Areas for New Zealand Seabirds

New Zealand is the undisputed seabird capital of the world.

We have more threatened seabird species than anywhere else in the world.  

The highest number of breeding seabird endemics (species that breed nowhere else in the world - 36 species).

We have seven times more of these birds than Mexico (in 2nd place, with five species).  

More than one-third of the world’s seabird species occur in our Exclusive Economic Zone, including species that breed in other parts of the world, as well as within New Zealand’s waters. 

About 14 million pairs of breeding seabirds in total.

What are Important Bird Areas? 

Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are sites that are recognised as internationally important for bird conservation and known to support key bird species and other biodiversity. 

Legal protection, management and monitoring of these crucial sites are all important targets for action. Many bird species may be effectively conserved by these means. 

The IBA Programme is global in scale and more than 12,000 IBAs have already been identified worldwide, using standard, internationally recognised criteria for selection. 

Seabirds: should we care? 

Biological diversity underpins ecosystem functioning and the provision of ecosystem services essential for human wellbeing. It provides for food security, human health, the provision of clean air and water; it contributes to local livelihoods, and economic development. 

As predators at the top of the food chain, seabirds are crucial components of marine ecosystems and are a viable and cost effective ‘canary in the cage’ for the long-term assessment of marine ecosystems. 

Who will use the New Zealand Seabird IBAs? 

  • Community groups, including Forest & Bird branches
  • Iwi groups
  • Department of Conservation
  • Ministry for Primary Industries
  • Councils
  • Businesses

How many IBAs are there in New Zealand? 

In New Zealand we have identified 141 sites of global significance for seabirds on land, and a further 69 in the marine environment (marine IBAs). This site-based approach presents a mosaic of locally identifiable sites that meet global criteria. 

Taken individually, or in regional sets, we can all work together to ensure conservation values of these globally important sites are retained.