Freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)


Member of the

Freshwater Information Platform

How to use Freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)

Savrina Carrizo (International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, Cambridge) and Teresa Connolly (University of Oxford)

What is this tool

Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are globally important areas for the persistence of biodiversity identified using standard criteria. They are identified nationally using simple, standard criteria, based on their importance in maintaining species populations.

Currently a KBA website is under development which brings together information on individual freshwater KBAs. As of May 2014 there are 8,423 KBAs identified based on fishes, odonates, plants and molluscs. New data will be added periodically.

Why use it

As the building blocks for designing the ecosystem approach and maintaining effective ecological networks, key biodiversity areas are a starting point for building comprehensive protected area networks. Governments, intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, the private sector, and other stakeholders can use key biodiversity areas as a tool for identifying national networks of internationally important sites for conservation.

Using the KBA information

  • helps local authorities locate and prioritise improved catchment management for freshwater species
  • helps guiding where new protected areas could be situated or how existing protected areas might be expanded to better protect freshwater species
  • helps informing company development decisions to meet environmental safeguards standards
  • helps informing local catchment research and identify where more research is needed

Using this this tool

There are a number of ways to make use of the KBA tool. You can:

  • Access the Freshwater KBAs (website will be accessible soon).
    Use the search options or map browser to retrieve freshwater KBA profiles. Each profile contains information on trigger species and may additionally have information on habitats, threats, conservation actions and overlapping protected areas.
  • Watch the following short video showing why Freshwater Biodiversity mapping is important and how to use the Freshwater KBAs video (coming soon)

Contributing to the KBA information

Help validate and keep the data up to date so this information resource remains of the highest value to all. If you have information to add to a KBA profile or if you would like to propose a catchment as a KBA please contact the Freshwater Biodiversity Unit at IUCN.

Contact FBU/IUCN: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contribute your findings to the BioFresh platform

We invite you to contribute your results using KBAs to the BioFresh platform. You can also see examples of existing freshwater KBA maps in the online Global Freshwater Biodiversity Atlas: Freshwater Biodiversity and Protected Areas in Africa: a Gap Analysis.


Carrizo, S. F., Lengyel, S., Kapusi, F., Szabolcs, M., Kasperdius, H., Scholz, M., Markovic, D., Freyhof, J., Cid, N., Cardoso, A. C. and Darwall, W. (2014) Freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas Across Continental Europe: Identification, Prioritisation and Gap-Analysis.