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Data mining and distribution, and EBAR range mapping to support the Canada Key Biodiversity Areas project

NatureServe Canada, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada and Birds Canada have partnered to lead on a project to identify Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in Canada. The KBA Canada project involves the contributions of dozens of government agencies, Conservation Data Centres, First Nations, non-profit organizations and independent biodiversity experts (

NatureServe Canada’s role in the project focuses on gathering, management and distribution of non-bird data, and the production of EBAR range maps to inform KBA identification.  Birds Canada leads on bird data.

The KBA Canada project is playing a key role in identifying priority lands for conservation under Canada's commitment to protect 30% of our land and water by 2030.

Since the inception of the KBA Canada project in 2019, NatureServe Canada has collected over 30 million species Observation data records from over 240 data providers beyond the NatureServe Canada Network of Conservation Data Centres (CDCs). These records, along with CDC Element Occurrence data are made available by NatureServe Canada to KBA Canada experts to inform KBA analyses/delineation.

The Observation and Element Occurrence data are also made available to the public at no cost via the NatureServe​​​​​​​ Explorer Pro Open Data platform.  Accordingly, the species data and information that informed the delineation of KBA sites in Canada are available to the public (via the Canada Key Biodiversity Areas Sites layer in NatureServe​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Explorer Pro and Birds Canada NatureCounts) to promote awareness, transparency and further analyses/usage. Citations pointing to the original data owner/provider are provided in the NatureServe​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Explorer Pro record, when available/permitted.

The objective of the Canada Key Biodiversity Areas Sites layer in NatureServe​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Explorer Pro, for non-CDC data, is to serve as a data discovery tool.  Accordingly, for most data records we have generalized the data (e.g., buffered a precise data point to a one square mile hexagon) and we encourage data users to contact the owner/provider of the original data record to learn more, and/or to access the original data record. Attribution information pointing to the original data source is provided in the Explorer Pro record to facilitate this. Worth noting that for elements (e.g., species, subspecies) that are susceptible to harm (e.g., poaching), we have generalized to a much more coarse precision (typically 343 square mile hexagon) according to the precision permissions for that element assigned by the relevant provincial/territorial Conservation Data Centre.

Please contact us should you have any questions regarding the KBA Canada species spatial data available in NatureServe​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Explorer Pro (

Key Biodiversity Areas Background

KBAs are “'sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity’, in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.” The international KBA initiative is intended to support, supplement and integrate the efforts of jurisdictions around the world to advance biodiversity protection. Using broad-based consultation, the KBA partnership has developed standards and guidelines with quantitative criteria and thresholds to facilitate the identification and delineation of KBA sites. NatureServe (Arlington, VA) is a founding member of the international KBA partnership. Please see for additional information about the international KBA initiative.

KBA Canada is a national coalition of organizations and stakeholder groups that is implementing the KBA standard by identifying KBA sites in Canada. This includes gathering the best available biodiversity information and coordinating the process to identify, document, and where practical, delineate KBAs in Canada.  KBAs provide important information for government and business decision-makers by helping with the identification of priority areas for biodiversity, informing environmental assessments, guiding conservation investments and informing where development should occur in order to reduce impacts on biodiversity. 

Additional information about the KBA Canada project and KBA site data and information is available via the KBA Canada Registry:

NatureServe Canada EBAR range maps feed into the KBA identification process by providing species information needed to measure the quantitative KBA criteria. For example, KBA criteria are based on assessment parameters including range, area of occupancy and number of localities for threatened and geographically restricted species. EBAR range maps also facilitate related species conservation and habitat protection initiatives, as well as environmental impact assessments and other business/development planning activities.