Important Plant Area (IPA) criteria

Important Plant Area (IPA) criteria

The identification of IPAs is based on 3 basic criteria:

  • Criterion A: threatened species
  • Criterion B: exceptional botanical richness
  • Criterion C: threatened habitats

A site can be identified as an IPA if it qualifies under one or more of these criteria.

Criterion A: Threatened Species

 Designed to identify and conserve populations of the most threatened plant and fungal species on a global or regional scale.

Criterion Description Threshold Sources and guidance on applying criteria
Ai Site contains one or more globally threatened species Site known, thought or inferred to contain ≥1% of the global population AND/OR ≥5% "best sites" for that species nationally, whichever is most appropriate

(1) Qualifying species must be listed as threatened [vulnerable (VU), endangered (EN) or critically endangered (CR); IUCN 2012] on the IUCN global Red List (www.iucnredlist.org) or, if relevant or appropriate, the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants (Walter and Gillett 1997).
(2) It is acceptable to include those species assessed as threatened and accepted by the IUCN review process but awaiting upload onto the IUCN Red List.
(3) Wherever possible, both the global and national importance of the site should be documented by applying the % population thresholds for each threatened species; the selection of ‘‘best sites’’ should only be applied where population data are not available and cannot be inferred.
(4) If the IPA contains a single-site, threatened (CR or EN) endemic species, i.e., the site effectively holds the entire global population of that species, this should be recorded in the site documentation.
(5) A(i) species of high socio-economic importance (nationally,     regionally or globally) can be tagged as such to facilitate subsequent analysis focused on useful species.

Aii Site contains one or more regionally threatened species Site known, thought or inferred to contain ≥5% of the national population AND/OR ≥5% "best sites" for that species nationally, whichever is most appropriate (1) Qualifying species must be listed as threatened on an IUCN Regional Red List OR another regionally approved, peer-reviewed threat list, for example the threatened medicinal plants of the Himalaya (Hamilton and Radford 2007).
(2) Note (5) for sub-criterion A(i) is equally applicable here.
Aiii Site contains one or more highly restricted endemic species that are potentially threatened Site known, thought or inferred to contain ≥1% of the global population AND/OR ≥5% "best sites" for that species nationally, whichever is most appropriate (1) A ‘‘Highly Restricted Endemic’’ (HRE) is defined as a species with a total range of 100 km2. These definitions of ‘‘highly restricted’’ and ‘‘range restricted’’ are aligned respectively to the CR and EN range (EOO) thresholds for IUCN threat assessments under criterion B (2012). Endemism is defined by ecological range size rather than by political borders, and thus A(iii) and A(iv) species can have trans-border ranges. A(iii) and A(iv) are recorded separately to allow for more detailed analysis of sites and species; they share the same thresholds.
(2) Species should be listed as HREs or RREs on a recognised national or regional list that can be developed, peer-reviewed and published as part of the IPA identification process.
(3) HREs and RREs that have already been assessed on the IUCN Red List are excluded from these sub-criteria except where listed as Data Deficient. If they have been assessed as threatened (VU, EN or CR), they should be considered under subcriterion A(i); if assessed as least concern or near threatened, they should be included in the species list for sub-criterion B(ii).
(4) Notes (3)–(5) for sub-criterion A(i) are equally applicable to sub-criteria A(iii) and A(iv). In addition, where a site is known or inferred to contain ≥10% of a HRE or RRE, this should be recorded in the site documentation.
Aiv Site contains one or more range restricted endemic species that are potentially threatened

 

Criterion B: Exceptional Botanical Richness

Criterion B is designed to identify and conserve sites of exceptional plant and fungal diversity, focussing on high-quality species assemblages, irrespective of threat. Sites that contain high concentrations of species that either indicate high quality habitat and/or species rich sites can qualify as IPAs under Criterion B.

In data rich countries where there is a strong understanding of the full range of habitat types and their species assemblages, the richest sites per habitat can be selected. For example the richest peat bogs, or the richest dry grasslands or the richest montane scrub. This method is used to enable species poor habitats to be compared with each other rather than with species rich habitats.
Where species data for habitats are not systematically available, such as in many parts of the Tropics, the richest sites are chosen on the basis of high concentrations of important/valuable species. Sub-criteria B(ii) and B(iii) have been separated because they reflect different value systems for important plants. B(ii) emphasises the value of rare or irreplaceable species or species which indicate important habitats or sites. B(iii) emphasises species of socio-economic value to humans including those that have cultural or spiritual value. These two species lists are not mutually exclusive.

 

 

Criterion C: Threatened Habitats

Criterion C is designed to capture the largest, most intact areas of threatened and/or extremely restricted (and thus highly likely to be threatened) natural or semi-natural habitats, and severely declining habitats that may once have been common. This is regardless of how botanically rich they are.

Criterion Description Threshold Notes
Ci  Site contains globally threatened or restricted habitat/ vegetation type Site known, thought or inferred to contain ≥5% of the national resource (area) of the threatened habitat type OR site is among the best quality examples required to collectively prioritise 20-60% of the national resource OR the 5 “best sites” for that habitat nationally, whichever is the most appropriate. (1) C(i) threatened or restricted habitat/vegetation types are taken from a globally recognised list, potentially following the categories and criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Ecosystems (Bland et al. 2015). This list does not exist at present but may do in future so is included to ‘future-proof’ the criteria.
(2) The 20–60% threshold is derived from the EU Habitats Directive for priority threatened habitats and so may not be appropriate for use outside Europe, where the C5% threshold may be more appropriate.
(3) Wherever possible, the national importance of the site should be documented by applying the threshold for the % of the national resource; the selection of ‘‘best sites’’ should only be applied where quantitative data are not available and cannot be inferred.
(4) In addition to meeting the national thresholds, if the site is known or inferred to contain C5% of the global extent of a globally Endangered or Critically Endangered habitat/vegetation type, C10% of the global extent of a globally Vulnerable habitat/ vegetation type, or C20% of the global extent of a geographically-restricted habitat/vegetation type regardless of threat status, then this should be recorded in the site documentation to assist with alignment to KBA criteria.
Cii  Site contains regionally threatened or restricted habitat/ vegetation type Site known, thought or inferred to contain ≥5% of the national resource (area) of the threatened habitat type OR site is among the best quality examples required to collectively prioritise 20-60% of the national resource OR the 5 “best sites” nationally, whichever is the most appropriate (1) C(ii) restricted or threatened habitats or vegetation types are taken from a regionally recognised list. This list can be developed, peer-reviewed and published as part of the IPA identification process if neighbouring countries are involved.
(2) Notes (2) and (3) for sub-criterion C(i) equally apply here.