Borana-Saynt (Denkoro Forest)

Site description (2001 baseline):

Site location and context
Denkoro forest is in Debresina District of South Wollo Zone. It is 30 km from the District town, Mekane Selam, and 215 km from Dessie. Denkoro is a forest remnant on the eastern side of Denkoro river gorge. The forested area lies between 2,400 and 3,000 m. The lowest part is dominated by Podocarpus falcatus, with Juniperus procera, Olea europaea cuspidata and Olinia rochetiana coming in as the altitude increases. Above this, Rapanea and Dombeya begin to dominate along with Hagenia abyssinica. Erica arborea and Hypericum revolutum are present midway up through the forest, and gradually dominate near the top. At around 3,000 m, the forest is a pure stand of Erica, gradually changing to Festuca-dominated Afro-alpine grassland with some scattered giant Lobelia, Kniphofia sp. and also some scattered shrubby Erica arborea.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 3 for key species. During a three-day survey of a small portion of this forest, 77 species were recorded, among which were many Afrotropical Highlands biome species. Species of particular interest include Gypaetus barbatus, Gyps rueppellii, Stephanoaetus coronatus, Columba larvata and Apaloderma narina.

Non-bird biodiversity: The area supports populations of many mammal species including Canis simensis (CR), Theropithecus gelada (LR/nt), Papio hamadryas (LR/nt) and the endemic Tragelaphus scriptus meneliki.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Denkoro National Forest Priority Area faces a number of threats. Of particular importance is the heavy grazing of the understorey (compounded by natural events such as drought), the cutting of trees (which is often selective) for construction, farm tools and fuel, and the expansion of cultivated areas. The Afro-alpine grassland ecosystem is impacted by fire, hunting and illegal grazing. Cattle-grazing within the forest area has had a profound impact on forest regeneration. There are almost no seedlings or saplings in the forest understorey, climbers are very rare, and the herbaceous ground-cover has been grazed down to soil level. The long-term fate of the forest will be dependent on the intensity of this grazing pressure. The Forest and Wildlife Conservation section of the Agriculture Office monitors the forest and grassland. Around 37 guards patrol the area during the day. Grazing is allowed in the forest area, but totally prohibited in the Afro-alpine grassland. However, the local community is allowed to cut the Festuca grass every 1–2 years. It is used in construction (walls and roofing), for rope, baskets, bedding, etc. Local people are also allowed to gather dead/fallen wood from the forest. Honey is an important non-timber forest product in this area, with farmers suggesting that it is the major off-farm source of income; Erica and Dombeya are the two most important plant groups for the honeybees. Participatory resource management is being taught to the local community through social gatherings (the church, etc.) and prearranged target group meetings.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Borana-Saynt (Denkoro Forest). Downloaded from on 26/09/2023.