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Location South Africa, Eastern Cape
Central coordinates 27o 8.00' East  32o 39.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 42,000 ha
Altitude 496 - 2,016m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife South Africa



Summary This IBA consists of a series of montane forest blocks, including several State Forests, surrounding fragmented urban and rural areas. The forests hold a considerable number of the escarpment race of the Cape Parrot Poicephalus robustus robustus.

Site description The centre of this site lies c.20 km north-west of King William’s Town and 24 km south-west of Stutterheim. The IBA consists of a series of montane forest blocks surrounding fragmented urban and rural areas. The forest complex runs from Hogsback State Forest in the east to Fort Cunningham State Forest in the west, and includes large State-owned forest blocks as well as smaller patches which provide continuity between the larger blocks, especially in the Keiskammahoek area. The boundaries are not distinct and the forests merge with the rural and urban areas on the borders of the IBA.

The area is generally rugged and comprises cliffs, steep slopes and thickly forested gorges, with several high peaks such as Elandsberg (2,016 m) and Gaika’s Kop (1,963 m). There are numerous perennial and non-perennial streams. The largest of these, the Buffalo river, feeds the Maden and Rooikrantz dams, which supply water to the greater King William’s Town/Bisho District. The Amatole mountains support a diverse array of plant communities, with 442 plant species described from the area. The forest complex holds both wet and dry forests, with scrub-forest at lower altitudes. Dominant trees of the canopy include Podocarpus, Xymalos, Rapanea, Ptaeroxylon, Canthium, Celtis, Trichocladus, Curtisia and Vepris. Pinus plantations, which abut the indigenous forests directly, occur as small, isolated, scattered pockets throughout the area. The highest areas, particularly in the rain-shadow, are characterized by a mixture of montane grassland and fynbos heath.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The forests in this IBA hold a considerable number of the escarpment race of Poicephalus robustus robustus. Southern Africa’s most southerly populations of Zoothera gurneyi and Lioptilus nigricapillus are also found in the Amatole Forests. Other forest specials include Buteo oreophilus, Tauraco corythaix, Campethera notata, Cossypha dichroa, Cercotrichas signata and Serinus scotops. The localized patches of open proteoid woodland in the grassy areas hold both Promerops cafer and P. gurneyi (the only area where these species are sympatric). At high altitudes, where barren rocky slopes become prominent, Geocolaptes olivaceus, Chaetops aurantius, Saxicola bifasciata and Monticola explorator are found. In the lower-altitude regions of rolling grassland, Circus maurus, Vanellus melanopterus, Neotis denhami, Grus paradisea and Balearica regulorum occur.

Non-bird biodiversity: The tributaries of the Kieskamma and Buffalo river systems, which occur within the IBA, hold two endemic threatened and highly localized fish species, Sandelia bainsii (EN) and Barbus trevelyani (CR). Among herptiles, the Amatoles are the only home to the extremely range-restricted Bufo amatolicus (VU) and, along with the Katberg-Readsdale forests (IBA ZA070), they also support Anhydrophyrne rattrayi, which is endemic to both of these mountain blocks. The Amatoles also support the South African endemic Afroedura amatolica, Bradypodion ventrale and an isolated population of Macrelaps microlepidotus.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Buteo oreophilus resident  1998  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Black Harrier Circus maurus resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Knysna Turaco Tauraco corythaix resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Knysna Woodpecker Campethera notata resident  1998  present  A1, A2  Near Threatened 
Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus resident  present  A1  Least Concern 
Olive Bush-shrike Telophorus olivaceus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
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 
Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops aurantius resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Least Concern 
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 

IBA Monitoring

2013 very 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 small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - shifting agriculture happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: large scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Climate change and severe weather drought likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather temperature extremes likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Energy production and mining oil and gas drilling likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Energy production and mining renewable energy happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - type unknown/unrecorded happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
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 some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Forest   0 0 poor (40-69%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable
Grassland   0 0 moderate (70-90%) poor (40-69%) very 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)  
Hogsback State Forest DWAF (Dept. Water & Forestry) Forest Area 4,086 protected area contained by site 9,738  

Local conservation groups The local conservation group below is working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
Cata, Eastern Cape Site Support Group 2007

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Montane forest - mixed  -
Grassland Grassland - montane  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 1%

References Castley and Kerley (in press), Castley (1996), Cawe and McKenzie (1989a,b), Commins (1962), Everard and Hardy (1992, 1993a,b,c), Feely (1954), Gaylard and Castley (1996), Hardy and Everard (1993), Johnson and Cawe (1987), Maddock (1986), Poduschka (1980), Skead (1964a,b, 1971), Story (1952), Thompson (1991), Wells (1973).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Amatole Forest Complex. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/08/2015

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife