Forests west of Lake Edward

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
The sites comprises an area of forested mountains immediately west of Lake Edward and Virunga National Park (IBA CD010) in eastern DR Congo. The land rises sharply from Lake Edward (912 m) and the Semliki plain to over 2,000 m in several places; westwards, beyond the mountains, altitudes decrease only gradually towards Maiko National Park (CD011). The only part of the area currently protected are the environs of its highest peak, Mount Tshiaberimu (3,117 m) in the north, close to Lake Edward, which is included in the northern section of Virunga National Park. The area is heavily populated, especially the highlands, but in some areas of the west, population densities are low. The main population centres are Lubéro, Alimbongo and Lutunguru. Agriculture and the felling of trees for firewood and construction seriously threaten the remaining forests.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Additional species of global conservation concern that may be expected to occur include Kupeornis rufocinctus, Terpsiphone bedfordi, Nectarinia rockefelleri and Cryptospiza shelleyi. In addition, one species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome has been recorded (see Table 3).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals of global conservation concern include Gorilla gorilla graueri (EN).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Population pressures are extremely high. Forest around Alimbongo has been destroyed, but large areas of forest in the Lutunguru area (including transition forest on Mount Biakiri) have been recommended for protection through the creation of a reserve east of Maiko National Park (IBA CD011). The high-altitude forest on Mount Tshiaberimu (mainly bamboo) is theoretically safeguarded in the Virunga National Park, but suffers from extensive human encroachment. The mid-elevation forests were already disappearing rapidly before 1994, but with the political turmoil in the region and the massive arrival of refugees from Rwanda the situation has worsened dramatically. A survey to determine the extent of the remaining forest and the priorities for its protection is urgently needed.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Forests west of Lake Edward. Downloaded from on 01/06/2020.