To be classified as an EBSA, a site must meet at least one of the following criteria:

Uniqueness or Rarity

Area contains either: unique (“the only one of its kind”), rare (occurs only in few locations) or endemic species, populations or communities, and/or unique, rare or distinct, habitats or ecosystems; and/or unique or unusual geomorphological or oceanographic features

Special importance for life history stages of species

Areas that are required for a population to survive and thrive

Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats

Area containing habitat for the survival and recovery of endangered, threatened, declining species or area with significant assemblages of such species

Vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity, or slow recovery

Areas that contain a relatively high proportion of sensitive habitats, biotopes or species that are functionally fragile (highly susceptible to degradation or depletion by human activity or by natural events) or with slow recovery

Biological productivity

Area containing species, populations or communities with comparatively higher natural biological productivity

Biological diversity

Area contains comparatively higher diversity of ecosystems, habitats, communities, or species, or has higher genetic diversity


Area with a comparatively higher degree of naturalness as a result of the lack of or low level of human-induced disturbance or degradation

Photo credits: Tropicalia; NACOMA; L. Harris; ACEP Imida; WildCoast WebWorx

Further information can be found in this CBD brochure