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Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Egypt

1- What is an IBA?

Nature Conservation Sector concerned with the conservation of birds and their habitats, is working to identify and document sites of global importance for birds around the world.These sites are called Important Bird Areas or IBAs and are selected according to internationally defined criteria.
To qualify as IBAs sites must have:

  • Globally threatened species.
  • Species with very small world ranges.
  • Concentrations of numbers.
  • Groups of species confined to particular habitat types.

Birds have proven to be excellent indicators of biodiversity and effective flagships for conservation, because they are relatively well known and can carry poplar support.

2- IBAs of Egypt

The Directory of IBAs in Egypt identifies 34 sites as IBAs in the country. Egypt's IBAs comprise wide range of habitats critical for birds, including: wetlands, high altitude mountains, desert wadis, coastal plains and marine islands.

Fifteen of Egypt's IBAs are in existing Protected Areas. Five further IBAs have been proposed for protection. However, not all IBAs can become Protected Areas .Bird conservation needs at sites such as Suez and Ain Sukhna can only be addressed through conscientious planning and management.

The Directory of IBAs in Egypt Provides decision makers and planners with a practical tool that can aid in setting conservation priorities and environmental management.

3- Distribution of IBAs in Egypt


Distribution of IBAs on the Map
1- Lake Bardawil 10- Wadi El Rayan 19- Zabargad Island 27- Quseima
2- Zaranik 11- Wadi El Naturn 20- Siyal Islands 28- Wadi Gerafi
3- El Malaha 12- Upper Nile 21- Rawabel Islands 29- El Qasr Desert
4- Bitter Lakes 13- Aswan Reservoir 22- Nabaq 30- Suez
5- Lake Manzalla 14-Lake Nasser 23- Gabel Elba 31- Gabel El Zeit
6- Lake Burullus 15- Hurghada Archipelago 24- The Abraq Area 32- El Qa Plain
7- Lake Idku 16- Tiran Island 25- St. Katherine 33- Ras Mohammed
8- Lake Maryut 17- Wadi Gimal Island 26- Gabel Maghara 34- Ain Sukhna
9- Lake Qarun 18- Qulan Island

4- Egypt's Importance for Birds

Birds are one of the most prominent and visible components of Egypt's biodiversity. The country is blessed with a wide range of habitats each with its own unique bird life.

As the only land bridge between Eurasia and Africa, Egypt represents one of the most important migration routes in the world, with hundreds of millions of birds passing through the country every spring and autumn. Many birds over winter in Egyptian wetlands, making them internationally important wintering grounds for water birds. A total of 16 globally threatened species occur in the country, seven of which Egypt has particular importance.

Egypt has benefited from its bird life since ancient times.The country is vital for many species of birds and shares a global responsibility to conserve them.

5- The Value of IBAs

IBAs are not only important for birds, but are often areas supporting high biodiversity, where rare and endangered species of plants and animals exist.

Thus, the maintenance of these sites contributes in a significant way towards fulfilling national and global obligations to conserve nature.

IBAs often encompass sites with outstanding natural resources and important ecological functions, which contribute to the well -being prosperity and future of the nation. Examples of this are Lake Nasser, the main fresh water reservoir for Egypt and Lake Manzala, one of the country's most important fisheries.

Nature- based tourism, including bird watching tourism is an economic activity that has notably increased in Egypt in the past few years. This activity is takes place at sites identified as IBAs, such as St.Katherine, the Red Sea Islands and Zaranik in North Sinai, and highlights the need to "protect those natural resources that attract the tourists".

6 - Threats to IBAs

As elsewhere around the world, IBAs in Egypt face a variety of threats, at the forefront:

Habitat Destruction: Excessive, unregulated development is one of the greatest threats to IBAs. Critical natural habitats are being degraded and destroyed by land reclamation, overgrazing, unsustainable tourism and haphazard quarrying.

Pollution: Many of Egypt's wetlands suffer from pollution, particularly in the Delta.
Oil pollution, particularly in the Delta .Oil pollution is a potential threat in the marine environment, with seabird colonies most at risk. Uncontrolled solid waste dumping is likewise a threat to wildlife and their habitats.

Over Exploitation of Resources: Unregulated hunting is widespread in Egypt. One to two million birds are netted, trapped and shot every autumn along the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, including globally threatened species like the Corncrake .

7 - IBAs Conservation Program

An IBAs program is under development for the lasting conservation and sustainable management of Egyp's IBAs that includes:

  • Advocate the inclusion of IBAs not currently protected, which can be managed as Protected Areas, into the National Protectorate Network.
  • Enhance conservation measures at existing protected Areas, which contain IBAs.
  • Initiate research and management programs for the conservation of IBAs and their bird populations.
  • Insure that Environmental Impact Assessments are conducted for all projects at or near IBAs, with special attention to birds and their habitats.
  • Work to control and mitigate impacts of on going adverse activities, such as hunting and pollution in IBAs.
  • Promote sustainable and environmentally friend economic activities, such as nature- based tourism, at IBAs.
  • Increase public awareness and encourage support for IBA conservation.
  • Promote greater involvement of local people, NGOs and the business community in IBA conservation and management.

Reference: Bird life International Organization In Egypt