Protected area gap analysis of important bird areas in Tanzania

Analyses of gaps in protected area (PA) coverage of species distributions have been carried out extensively for the past two decades, aiming to better locate new PAs and conserve species. In this study, progress to close gaps in the protection of the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Tanzania is assessed between 2002 and 2009, with a detailed GIS analysis from 2007 to 2009. Remaining gaps are ranked according to biological factors such as numbers of red list and restricted range avian species and social pressures such as human population, agriculture and density of the road network. Results show that there has been a 5.3% increase (7615.1 km2) in protection of IBAs between 2007 and 2009. Of the 27 remaining IBA protection gaps, three are of high, nine of medium and fifteen of low priority for action. The current IBA ‘gap area’ of 17,133.3 km2 contains around 26% forest, 13% shrubland, 9% grassland, 36% wetland and 12% agricultural land. This analysis provides a simple template for defining where further action to protect remaining IBA sites in Tanzania would lead to enhanced conservation of avian biodiversity in that country and provides a methodology for analysis leading to conservation action elsewhere in Africa.