Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

Site Assessment Tool

Background

The site assessment is based on BirdLife International’s Global Framework for Monitoring Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and WWF's Tracking Tool for Assessing Management Effectiveness in Wetland Protected Areas -especially designed for Ramsar sites-, both of which follow the framework for evaluating management effectiveness of protected areas from IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). The Five-S Framework for Site Conservation by The Nature Conservancy is an important source for some aspects of the assessment as well.

Snowy plover
Photo Credit: Stuart Mackay

The IBA monitoring uses the widely adopted Pressure-State-Response (PSR) framework, with a standardized way to assign scores for the status and trends of IBA biodiversity (‘state’), threats (‘pressure’) and conservation actions (‘response’). The tracking tool for wetland protected areas complements this framework by qualifying the many elements of management of protected areas, categorized by the WCPA framework in criteria of Context, Planning, Inputs, Processes, Outputs and Outcomes.  The Five-S framework was used as a model for the evaluation of the ‘state’ component of the assessment through the concepts of conservation targets and ecological integrity, which permit qualifying the conservation state of sites by key ecological attributes important for shorebirds at each site.  The IUCN Authority files for Threats and Conservation Actions -sets of standard categories used for Red list assessments of threatened species- are used in the assessment, although some additions have been made, mostly from the Conservation Measures Partnership (Salzer et al., 2005) in favor of comprehensiveness. The breadth of the topics covered is large, but such a comprehensive approach is needed to better understand the problems and issues at the site scale and network scale. We have strived to make a balance between the information needs, the simplicity of the tool and the need to avoid duplication of efforts so that the most information is extracted with the least burden on site partners.