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Location South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal
Central coordinates 30o 34.00' East  29o 9.00' South
IBA criteria A1
Area 2,800 ha
Altitude 970 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Summary Umvoti Vlei lies 11 km due south of Greytown. It forms the headwaters of the Umvoti River. There is some open water at the lower end of the vlei, where clay soils impede drainage. The wetland areas are good for Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus and Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum, which winter here in large numbers. The wetland also holds a small population of African Marsh Harrier Circus ranivorus.

Site description Umvoti vlei lies 11 km due south of Greytown. It forms the headwaters of the Umvoti river. The terrain is almost flat. The wetland owes its existence to a sill of tough sandstone that has retarded downcutting of the Umvoti river. There is some open water at the lower end of the vlei, where clay soils impede drainage. However, the major part of the site, where the soils are alluvial, is a dense, tall, permanently flooded reedbed Phragmites. Sedge meadows with Cyperus, Carex, Leersia and Juncus form narrow fringes in places.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. The wetland areas are good for Grus carunculatus and Balearica regulorum, which winter here in large numbers. The surrounding grassland supports several species of conservation concern, including Geronticus calvus, Grus paradisea, Neotis denhami and Circus maurus. The site is suspected to hold several pairs of Botaurus stellaris. The Carex beds have good potential for Sarothrura ayresi.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Black Harrier Circus maurus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Corncrake Crex crex winter  present  A1  Least Concern 
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2014 high very unfavourable negligible
Habitat
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - herbicides and pesticides happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - nutrient loads happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - soil erosion, sedimentation happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Grassland Grassland - highveld  0 0 very poor (< 40%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable
Wetlands (inland) Permanent herbaceous swamps and bogs  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management planning has taken place  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  negligible 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Umvoti Vlei Provincial Nature Reserve 461 protected area contained by site 267  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - highveld  -
Wetlands (inland) Permanent herbaceous swamps and bogs  -
Shrubland   24%
Forest   75%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
tourism/recreation -

References Taylor (1997a,b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Umvoti Vlei. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/08/2015

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