Selecting and Mapping IIAs

Wye Valley © David Evans (CC BY 2.0)

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Important Invertebrate Areas (IIAs) are the best places in Great Britain for our invertebrates, which have been identified using the most up-to-date data available from over 80 national expert recording schemes. They support some of our rarest and most threatened species, vulnerable habitats and unique assemblages of invertebrates.


Selecting and Mapping IIAs

The criteria for IIAs were developed by a group of invertebrate, data and recording experts.  The national IIA network was mapped using a wealth of data from national invertebrate recording schemes – over 45 million records from 80 schemes. 

Across England, Scotland and Wales, hectads (10km x 10km squares) were identified as IIAs for either supporting one of our rarest and most threatened species, meaning there is a special responsibility to act and conserve them, or for supporting a nationally important assemblage of rare or threatened species. Species that were considered for IIA mapping were identified using these criteria: 

The ‘IIA qualifying species’ were identified from modern status reviews or where these are missing, a review by species group experts. Those hectads that qualified were then grouped into recognisable named IIA areas such as the South Wales Valleys, Mid Argyll or the Fens. 

The IIAs are now being mapped at a fine-scale, one-by-one, working with local experts to review local post-1990 invertebrate records and site information to map the core areas supporting threatened invertebrates.  

Each fine-scale map will be accompanied by an IIA profile that characterises its habitats and importance to invertebrates. The profile will also flag up key species and assemblages as well as the local threats that face the IIA’s invertebrates and what opportunities there are to improve the landscape for invertebrates. 

All completed IIA fine-scale maps and profiles will be uploaded to the interactive IIA web map when they are completed.

It is important to note that habitats outside of IIAs can still be home to rare and threatened invertebrates in need of conservation. Despite the impressive data that has informed this exercise, new data and status reviews will always become available- which is why the IIA methodology is designed to be repeatable in future years, to respond to the changing state of our invertebrate populations.  

More detailed information on how the IIA network was mapped will be made available in a future Technical Report.