|Location||South Africa, Eastern Cape|
|Central coordinates||27o 8.00' East 32o 39.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A3|
|Altitude||496 - 2,016m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information 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.
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.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Black Harrier Circus maurus||resident||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Mountain Buzzard Buteo oreophilus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Knysna Turaco Tauraco corythaix||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Knysna Woodpecker Campethera notata||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A1, A2||Near Threatened|
|Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus||resident||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Least Concern|
|Olive Bush-shrike Telophorus olivaceus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|African Scrub-warbler Bradypterus barratti||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus ruficapilla||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Bush Blackcap Lioptilus nigricapillus||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A1, A2, A3||Near Threatened|
|Black-bellied Glossy-starling Lamprotornis corruscus||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops aurantius||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A1, A3||Least Concern|
|Orange Ground-thrush Zoothera gurneyi||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Chorister Robin-chat Cossypha dichroa||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Brown Scrub-robin Erythropygia signata||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Buff-streaked Chat Oenanthe bifasciata||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A1, A3||Least Concern|
|Mouse-coloured Sunbird Nectarinia veroxii||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Cape Sugarbird Promerops cafer||resident||1998||-||-||Least Concern|
|Swee Waxbill Estrilda melanotis||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Forest Canary Serinus scotops||resident||1998||present [units unknown]||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|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.
|Cata, Eastern Cape Site Support Group||2007|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Forest||Montane forest - mixed||-|
|Grassland||Grassland - montane||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||40%|
|nature conservation and research||1%|
Other 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.
Management considerations Although this area was previously managed by Ciskei Forestry, control of all indigenous forests was handed over to the Directorate of Nature Conservation of the Eastern Cape Province authorities in 1996, and management plans for all forests are in preparation. Commercial forestry (SAFCOL) and smaller private forestry concerns are operational within and surrounding the area. It is important that their interests are monitored. There are no grazing or hunting rights as specified in the Forest Conservation Act, although resource extraction (fuelwood, bark, building materials, etc.) does take place.The boundaries of the forests are not physically demarcated and there is considerable movement of faunal populations between adjacent forest areas. Together, the complex forms a large forest network, which is likely to maintain its biological integrity provided no further fragmentation or habitat destruction occurs. Water-hungry non-native plantations, above indigenous forest zones, deprive indigenous forests of water, potentially changing forest structure and functioning. Plantations should be managed to ensure that the indigenous forests receive their water requirements.Other threats to the area’s forests include unsustainable harvesting of indigenous timber, targeting Podocarpus in particular. Poicephalus robustus robustus is threatened by illegal trapping for the cage-bird trade. Illegal hunting using dogs, snares and weapons poses a threat to several small mammals and birds. Grazing of domestic livestock occurs within the forest and at forest margins, resulting in ecotone degradation.
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 (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Amatole forest complex. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2013
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