Important Bird Areas of the Caribbean - Aruba

Aruba’s four IBAs cover just 610 ha, but between them they support over 30,000 seabirds and a number of other significant bird populations. Tierra del Sol Salina IBA (AW002) is set

within a privately-owned golf course and is unprotected. The other three IBAs are state owned with differing levels of protection afforded them. Bubali Wetlands IBA (AW001) enjoys de facto protection as a nature reserve, although it is unclear what formal protection status exists for the area. Oranjestad Reef Islands IBA (AW003) is benefiting from nonregulatory

protection provided by the coastguard, harbour authorities and the police, but again, its formal protected status is uncertain. San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands IBA (AW004) is not formally protected, although informal protection is provided by staff of the adjacent oil refinery, and the coastguard. Building these sites into a formalised legislative framework for national conservation and protected area establishment would help facilitate much needed conservation action and management.

The IBAs have been identified on the basis of 12 key bird species that variously trigger the IBA criteria. While four of these species occur within two IBAs, the majority of these birds

(the breeding seabirds) are confined to the San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands IBA (AW004), highlighting the critical importance of these islands for maintaining Aruba’s biodiversity. However, there is a proven between-year movement of breeding Cayenne Terns S. sandvicensis eurygnatha between the colonies at the San Nicolas Bay IBA and Oranjestad Reef Islands IBA (AW003) showing that these two IBAs should really have shared conservation management plans.

Aruba’s ornithological importance is largely focused on its 10 species of nesting terns, and this is reflected in the identification of two IBAs specifically for these seabirds. During the 1950s, the population of terns breeding on Aruba was very low (and for some species non-existent), but they have demonstrated a dramatic increase as a result of the protection (albeit informal) afforded the Oranjestad Reef Islands IBA (AW003) and San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands IBA (AW004). The increasing populations have been monitored on an annual basis since 1999 through the Aruba Tern Project. This monitoring could be used to inform the assessment of state, pressure and response variables at each of Aruba’s IBAs in order to provide an objective status assessment and highlight management interventions that might be required to maintain these internationally important biodiversity sites.

Retrieved from Birdlife International

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