Patterns of bird distribution are such that it is often possible to select sites that support many species. These sites are carefully identified on the basis of the bird numbers and species they hold are called Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). A network of 42 IBAs has been identified in Zambia, using the BirdLife International standard guidelines for the identification of IBAs (Leonard, 2005). These guidelines were closely followed in selecting Zambian IBAs, with the recognition that the need for scientific objectivity and standardization has to be balanced by common sense and practical objectives. Birdlife International established and recognizes 4 categories and criteria for the selection and identification of IBAs, these are;
- Globally Threatened Species; the site regularly holds significant numbers of a globally threatened species or other species of global conservation concern
- Restricted Range Species; the site is known to hold a significant component of a group of species whose breeding distributions define an endemic bird area (EBA) or Secondary Area (SA).
- Biome-restricted Assemblages; the site is known to hold a significant component group of species whose distributions are largely or wholly confined to one biome (Biome endemics)
- Globally Important Congregations; A site may qualify on any one or more of the four Criteria (i) The site is known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, 1% or more of a biogeographic population of a congregatory waterbird species. (ii) The site is known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, 1% or more of the global population of a congregatory seabird or terrestrial species. (iii) The site is known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, at least 20,000 waterbirds, or at least 10,000 pairs of seabirds, of one or more species. (iv)The site is known or thought to exceed thresholds set for migratory species at bottleneck sites.
 Places where two or more species of restricted range (world distribution of less than 50000km²) occur together.
 Areas supporting one restricted-range species with a distribution that does not overlap with any other such species
 Species whose entire global breeding distribution lies within the defined boundaries of a particular biome
 This category is applied to those species that are (perceived to be) vulnerable, at the population level, to the destruction or degradation of sites, by virtue of their congregatory behaviour at any stage in their life-cycles.
The habitat monitoring program seeks to keep an updated record of the Status of Zambia’s IBAs. Through routine monitoring, BWZ is aware of threats in the IBAs and uses that information to design suitable interventions to combat or mitigate the threats. The monitoring is not done in isolation but is a joint activity with relevant stakeholders in each IBA. BWZ conduct training using the BirdLife International adopted ‘State-Pressure-Trends’ model. The training not only develops capacity within partner institutions but also ensures the sustenance of the monitoring programme.
As a result of this programme BWZ has strengthened its collaboration with various government departments and agencies including; Forestry Department and Department of National Park and Wildlife (DNPW) and National Heritage and Zambia Environmental Agency and District Councils. In addition BWZ has also sustained and strengthened collaboration with relevant civil society groups, Site Support Groups (SSGs) and communities in the IBAs.
Current projects under this program include;
- Darwin Funded invasive species control project
- Isdell Funded Vulture Safe Zones project
- BWZ’s Kafue Flats bi-annual monitoring and bird count
Recent past Projects include;
- Norwegian Ornithological society funded IBA monitoring project
- Civil Society Environment Fund National Biodiversity and Species Protection Project
- DANIDA-UNDP funded Kafue Basin local community empowerment project