South African forests

Country/Territory Eswatini,Mozambique,South Africa
Area 91,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 1900m
Priority high
Habitat loss possible
Knowledge good

General characteristics

In South Africa, evergreen forest is confined to a band of Afromontane 'mist-belt' forest on the eastern escarpment which extends southwards from the Soutpansberg in northern Transvaal through eastern Transvaal, Natal, Transkei and adjacent parts of Swaziland to the eastern Cape, and along the southern and eastern coasts in southern Mozambique, eastern Natal, Transkei and the Cape.

A group of restricted-range species is endemic to these forests, several of which occur in both coastal and montane forests, so they are treated together as a single EBA (see Allan and Nuttall 1995). In the southern Cape, there is some overlap between this EBA and the Cape fynbos (EBA 088), as a few of the restricted-range birds of this EBA range into the forest mosaic within the fynbos biome, but seldom enter fynbos vegetation (K. Barnes in litt. 1996). This EBA is also adjacent to the South African grasslands (EBA 091), but there is no overlap, as the birds of that EBA occur in open grasslands. One species of the South African forests ranges close to the South-east African coast (EBA 092), but there is no true overlap as the birds of that EBA do not occur in evergreen forest.

Restricted-range species

The restricted-range bird species are all found in evergreen forest, and some also range into adjacent scrub and thickets. Most are found in both montane and coastal forest, but Lioptilus nigricapillus is confined to montane mist-belt forest and adjacent scrubby hillsides, and Campethera notata and Bradypterus sylvaticus are confined to the coastal lowlands. Cercotrichas signata is the only species which extends up the northern Natal coast into Mozambique, where it ranges northwards to Ponta Zavora (near Lagoa Poelela).

Species IUCN Category
Knysna Turaco (Tauraco corythaix) LC
Knysna Woodpecker (Campethera notata) NT
Knysna Warbler (Bradypterus sylvaticus) VU
Bush Blackcap (Sylvia nigricapillus) VU
Brown Scrub-robin (Tychaedon signata) LC
Chorister Robin-chat (Cossypha dichroa) LC
Forest Canary (Crithagra scotops) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
SZ001 Malolotja Nature Reserve Eswatini
ZA002 Soutpansberg South Africa
ZA004 Wolkberg Forest Belt South Africa
ZA008 Blyde River Canyon South Africa
ZA010 Mac-Mac Escarpment and Forests South Africa
ZA011 Kaapsehoop South Africa
ZA013 Songimvelo Nature Reserve South Africa
ZA014 Amersfoort - Bethal - Carolina District South Africa
ZA035 Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve South Africa
ZA049 Ngoye Forest Reserve South Africa
ZA050 Entumeni Nature Reserve South Africa
ZA051 Dhlinza Forest Nature Reserve South Africa
ZA053 KwaZulu-Natal Mistbelt Forests South Africa
ZA055 Karkloof Nature Reserve South Africa
ZA064 Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve South Africa
ZA065 Umtamvuna Nature Reserve South Africa
ZA066 Mkhambati Nature Reserve South Africa
ZA068 Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve South Africa
ZA070 Katberg - Readsdale forest complex South Africa
ZA071 Amatole Forest Complex South Africa
ZA073 Woody Cape Section: Addo Elephant National Park South Africa
ZA077 Tsitsikama - Plettenberg Bay South Africa
ZA093 Wilderness - Sedgefield Lakes Complex South Africa

Threat and conservation

None of the restricted-range birds is threatened because the forests of the EBA are relatively well protected (about 77% of the EBA's remaining area of natural forest is included within protected areas: Allan and Nuttall 1995) and because several of the species appear able to adapt to man-modified habitats. A more widespread threatened species which occurs in this EBA (and is migratory within it) is Spotted Ground-thrush Zoothera guttata (classified as Endangered).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: South African forests. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/02/2023.