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Location Zimbabwe, Manicaland Province
Central coordinates 32o 51.96' East  18o 42.06' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 23,000 ha
Altitude 700 - 1,885m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife Zimbabwe

Site description Stapleford Forest is south of the Honde valley, c.50 km north-east of Mutare, near the village of Penhalonga and forms part of the eastern border of Zimbabwe with Mozambique. It is under commercial forestry plantations controlled by the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe, and falls within the Mutasa Rural District Council. The Mutasa Communal Land forms the northern and western borders of Stapleford. The highest point of 2,030 m (Mt Rupere) in the west of Stapleford forms a watershed, with the Odzani river flowing south-west and the Nyamahwarara river flowing north-east.

The site includes the three areas of indigenous rainforest and Brachystegia woodland found within Stapleford. There is a fairly large patch of montane rainforest on the south-eastern slope of a steep-sided valley beneath Mt Rupere, next to the John Meikle Forest Research Station. It contains six different forest-types and many interesting species. The upper region consists of mainly Syzygium, with Podocarpus further down the slope and Craibia forest on boulder-scree. The area has not been checked from the ground so the exact size and site descriptions are not known. From vegetation maps, the forest and Brachystegia woodland appear to cover an area of c.1,400 ha.

On the eastern border is a prominent mountain, Gurungwe, which peaks at 1,885 m and drops steeply to the Nyamahwarara valley at 700 m. This has a good example of mid-altitude forest with Maranthes and Khaya. Breonadia grows along stream banks. The top and eastern slopes of Mt Chinyamariro, to the south of Stapleford, have a well-developed Syzygium forest. Most of this forest belongs to Border Timbers, a commercial forest estate.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The area of Nyamahwarara valley has been a well-known site for past avifaunal collections. Stapleford is the type-locality for six subspecies of bird endemic to Zimbabwe. Stapleford supports six globally threatened or restricted-range species. About eight pairs of Hirundo atrocaerulea are known to breed on nearby Mountain Home Estate, but it is not known how many birds breed on Stapleford. One pair of Grus carunculatus was sighted in an aerial survey in 1983. There is no known checklist of birds for this estate and records have been taken from the Atlas Records.

Non-bird biodiversity: Little is known of the occurrence of non-bird species and this is clearly an area for more fieldwork and research. There are numerous specimens of the cycad Encephalartos manikensis (Rare) at the forest-edge.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus resident  1983  1 breeding pairs  A1  Vulnerable 
Olive Bush-shrike Telophorus olivaceus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Crested-flycatcher Elminia albonotata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea breeding  1998  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Briar Warbler Prinia robertsi resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Chirinda Apalis Apalis chirindensis resident  1998  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Stripe-cheeked Greenbul Andropadus milanjensis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus ruficapilla resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Orange Ground-thrush Zoothera gurneyi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Swynnerton's Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bronze Sunbird Nectarinia kilimensis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Gurney's Sugarbird Promerops gurneyi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-faced Crimson-wing Cryptospiza reichenovii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2011 high unfavourable medium
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: large scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution excess energy - noise pollution happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Forest   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Grassland Grassland - montane  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Stapleford State Forest 24,600 protected area contained by site 24,600  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   100%
Grassland Grassland - montane  minor
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams  minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
forestry -
water management -

References Irwin (1979), Muller (1994), Mundy et al. (1984).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Stapleford Forest. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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