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Location South Africa, Mpumalanga
Central coordinates 30o 50.00' East  25o 2.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 35,000 ha
Altitude 1,200 - 1,700m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa

Site description Located within the South African mistbelt, between Graskop and Sabie, this site consists of a patchwork of forestry plantations that still hold superb patches of fragmented indigenous forest, as well as some remaining grassland and sheer cliffs. The site consists of Mariti, Waterhoutboom, Mac-Mac, Frankfort, Bergvliet, Klipkraal, Rietfontein, Waterfal and Ceylon plantations. Approximately 60% of the area is under pine Pinus plantation, while the remaining 40% holds escarpment cliffs with associated grassland and indigenous forest.Fragmented patches of indigenous habitat may be found in and around the plantation matrix. The thornveld of mountain slopes holds scrubby Phymaspermum, Buddleja and Leucosidea along the streams. Patches of fynbos holding Erica and Protea bushes also occur. The forests, which are restricted to the more mesic valleys, are dominated by trees of Rapanea, Podocarpus, Trichocladus and Curtisia. Dense stands of non-native trees, including wattle Acacia and Eucalyptus, have invaded and replaced much of the remaining indigenous vegetation, and continue to spread uncontrolled, encroaching on the remaining grassland.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus resident  1998  present  A3  Vulnerable 
Buteo oreophilus resident  1998  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Striped Flufftail Sarothrura affinis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Knysna Turaco Tauraco corythaix resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Olive Bush-shrike Telophorus olivaceus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea breeding  1998  unknown  A3  Vulnerable 
African Scrub-warbler Bradypterus barratti resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus ruficapilla resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bush Blackcap Lioptilus nigricapillus resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Orange Ground-thrush Zoothera gurneyi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chorister Robin-chat Cossypha dichroa resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Brown Scrub-robin Erythropygia signata resident  1998  present  A2  Least Concern 
Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Least Concern 
Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Swee Waxbill Estrilda melanotis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Forest Canary Serinus scotops resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Mid-altitude forest - transitional  -
Grassland Grassland - highveld  -
Artificial - terrestrial Forestry & agro-industrial plantations  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry 60%
nature conservation and research 4%
water management 10%
forestry 40%
nature conservation and research 55%
tourism/recreation -

Other biodiversity Among frogs, the forests are known to hold Breviceps verrucosus, and the river also holds Strongylopus wageri and the rare, localized endemic, Heleophryne natalensis. The snake Amplorhinus multimaculatus may occur, and the geckos Lygodactylus nigropuncatus and L. ocellatus, endemic to the Soutpansberg and Mpumalanga/Swaziland Drakensberg, have been recorded in rocky montane grassland areas.

References Earlé and Oatley (1983).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mac-Mac Escarpment and Forests. Downloaded from on 31/07/2014

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