Supporting the development of site management plans internationally

Important Bird Areas and protected areas are an essential part of conservation efforts to save birds and biodiversity globally.

Common or Eurasian crane Grus grus, four adults and one juvenile, in flight over pastureland, during autumn migration in Rugen-Bock-Region, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany


Developing plans to ensure Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and protected areas are managed effectively is key to global biodiversity. The RSPB is empowering local partners and communities to produce and implement these plans.
All sites of conservation importance should have a management plan to ensure the important features of the site - species, habitats etc - are maintained or enhanced. RSPB-supported BirdLife Partners are becoming increasingly involved in the management of sites, especially IBAs, either directly or by providing advice to government bodies or local communities.  

However, often the skills to develop site management plans which deliver effective conservation or sustainable management on the ground are lacking. RSPB provides training and support to partners ranging from remote advice to training courses, to assisting partners in writing plans, depending on local needs.


Every IBA should have a management plan being implemented which helps to deliver favourable status for species and habitats.

To achieve this in a sustainable manner it is necessary that:

  • Local BirdLife Partners are able to develop and, where appropriate, implement effective site management plans with minimal external support. To enable this, the RSPB has developed a generic management plan format which can be used at sites throughout the world
  • Provides appropriate training and support materials to increase local capacity in site management plan production.

Planned Work

Ongoing training and assistance will be provided to BirdLife partners as the need arises.
The generic management plan format and guidance notes will be revised as necessary based on feedback from partners.


  • Generic management plan format and guidance notes prepared, and being trialled with selected BirdLife Partners.
  • Detailed training course prepared.
  • Management plans produced for two internationally important wetlands in Kazakhstan - Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve and Alakol State Nature Reserve - and plan format and production process adopted into national legislation for all protected areas.
  • Management plan prepared for the Gola Forest in Sierra Leone.
  • Management plan prepared for the Centre Hills in Montserrat.
  • Management plans under production for nine key sites for Aquatic Warbler in Poland and Germany.
  • Management plan under production for one key site for Yelkouan Shearwater in Malta.
  • Pre-planning started for Harapan Rainforest in Sumatra.
  • Visitor and habitat management advice provided for the Ria de Aveiro Special Protection Area in Portugal.
  • Remote assistance given for management plan production and review at IBAs in Yemen and Zimbabwe.


These guidance notes aim to take you through the process of preparing a site management plan covering in detail all of the topics to be considered in each section of the plan and giving specific examples of how these can be applied to sites. 4 August 2009. PDF, 6.33Mb.

Generic site management planning format and guidance notes


Coast on a stormy day

Geoff Welch

International Management Plans Adviser, RSPB
Tagged with: Country: International Project status: Ongoing Project types: Site protection Project types: Species protection