Hugumburda and Grat-Kahsu forests

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Hugumburda and Grat-Kahsu are two contiguous forests situated between the towns of Mai Chew and Alamata, Southern Zone. The whole Alamata mountain area comprises volcanic rock. There is a distinctive flora associated with this rock that includes the rare endemic Delosperma abyssinica (a succulent mesembryanthemum) and the shrub Cadia purpurea. The forest block starts at the foot of the escarpment to the west of the Raya plain and continues up over very broken terrain onto the Alamata mountains, up to c.2,600 m. The forest is dry evergreen/coniferous with Juniperus procera, Olea europaea cuspidata and some Podocarpus falcatus in the higher sections. Lower down, Millettia ferruginea, Croton macrostachyus, Celtis africana, Ekebergia capensis, Prunus africana, Cordia africana and Ficus spp. are more common. Hugumburda and Grat-Kahsu forests represent the only significant expanse of dry coniferous forest in the region. No detailed study of the species composition has been carried out. The area includes c.1,200 ha of exotic tree plantation.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 3 for key species. The avifauna at this site is poorly known. A preliminary survey found 58 species, of which 12 were Afrotropical Highlands biome species, including the endemic Parophasma galinieri. Further surveys would undoubtedly find more species of this biome, and possibly some from the Somali–Masai biome. Over 100 Bostrychia carunculata have been reported from the nearby Lake Ashenge (site ET004) and local reports suggest that many of these roost in at least two places within the forest. The survey in October 1995 also recorded 13 Palearctic migrant species, including Sylvia nisoria.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Local people make extensive use of any easily accessible areas of forest to provide fuelwood and construction materials. However, parts of these forests are on very broken terrain with sheer cliffs separating isolated blocks that retain good vegetation cover. Such areas could provide important refuges for the indigenous wildlife. Until the early 1990s, this part of Tigray was better known for its huge camps of famine victims than its natural resources, so it is not surprising that the forests have not been properly managed, and there continues to be insufficient manpower and funds to develop an appropriate management plan. Afforestation activities on the more accessible slopes began in the early 1970s, and the regional government is now helping to expand these further. Three tree nurseries—in Korem, Ashenge and Addis-Fana—are producing exotic species for the afforestation programme.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hugumburda and Grat-Kahsu forests. Downloaded from on 06/04/2020.