Data on KBAs are expected to have multiple uses. KBAs can support the strategic expansion of protected area networks by governments and civil society working toward achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (in particular Target 11, but also targets 5, 12, 13 and others), as established by the Convention on Biological Diversity. They can also serve to inform the description or identification of sites under international conventions (such as Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas described under the Convention on Biological Diversity, wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention, natural World Heritage Sites under the World Heritage Convention and sites for migratory species relevant for the Convention on Migratory Species and its daughter Agreements). One particular subset of KBAs — Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) — has been extensively used in the European Union Member States as candidate sites for the designation of Special Protection Areas under the Birds Directive.
However, securing legal protection status for KBAs may not always be possible or necessary. Other management approaches such as Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) may be suitable to maintain the conservation values of KBAs. On the other hand, many protected areas are established for other conservation purposes and will not be identified as KBAs unless they also hold biodiversity elements meeting the criteria and thresholds. To clarify the relationship between KBAs and Protected Areas, the KBA Committee developed an information document which can be downloaded here; see also the KBA Standard (Section II.12).
While all KBAs are by definition important for biodiversity, the KBA Standard (Section II.13) clarifies that not all KBAs are necessarily priorities for any particular type of conservation action. However, KBAs should be a core input dataset into conservation prioritisation and systematic conservation planning, recognising that other information, including for example on costs and opportunities, is often also important, and that conservation priority actions may also be outside of KBAs. Systematic conservation planning is usually undertaken at the local/national scale but may not recognise sites that are of global importance as a result. Incorporating KBAs in these analyses can help flag sites that are of global value and for which a country has a responsibility to the global community to conserve. The one action for which all KBAs are priorities, given that re-evaluation and monitoring is required under the KBA Standard (Section II.10), is monitoring and vigilance. For further information, see here.
In sum, therefore, KBAs may: inform private sector safeguard policies, environmental standards, and certification schemes; support conservation planning and priority-setting at national and regional levels; and provide local and indigenous communities with opportunities for employment, recognition, economic investment, societal mobilisation and civic pride. For further information, see here.
End users of KBA data are engaged through the KBA Consultative Forum.