Graskop Grasslands

Country/territory: South Africa

IBA Criteria met: A1 (1998)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 10,000 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife South Africa
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2012 very high not assessed low
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
This site lies within South Africa’s mistbelt region and consists of two areas of fragmented, gently undulating sour grassveld, which are separated from one another by a plantation. The first grassland area, Graskop 564 KT, lies immediately west of Graskop Town and is infiltrated by narrow drainage-lines lying between 1,463 and 1,807 m. The grassland in this area is severely fragmented; there are only three blocks of continuous grassland, and each is surrounded by plantation. The first block of primary grassland occurs at Townlands West; to the south, a narrow grassland tongue known as Malidyke stretches for 3 km from the western portion of Townlands West. The third grassland block, the hilly Stanley Bush Kop, lies farther west, south of Pilgrim’s Rest. The grasslands at Graskop 564 KT are separated from those at Lisbon Ridge by the farm Driekop 546, which is entirely afforested with pines Pinus. Lisbon Ridge lies c.8 km due north of Graskop Town. Patches of fynbos elements, such as Erica and Protea, also occur. The forests, which are restricted to the more mesic valleys, are dominated by Rapanea, Xymalos, Podocarpus, Pterocelastrus and Syzygium. Other natural habitat-types include rocky outcrops and sheer cliffs, which form part of the Mpumalanga escarpment. Up to 20% of the grassland in this area has been encroached upon by large, dense stands of tall non-native trees, including Acacia, Eucalyptus and Pinus. Non-native trees continue to spread uncontrolled.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. These two fragmented grassland areas hold the second largest population of breeding Hirundo atrocaerulea in South Africa. Neotis denhami, Bucorvus cafer, Vanellus melanopterus and other grassland specials such as Saxicola bifasciata also occur. Although the fragmented grassland comprises less than 2,500 ha (25%) of the site’s area, the birds probably move between the grassland patches and it is appropriate to treat the system as a single unit. The proteoid woodland holds Promerops gurneyi.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2018) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Graskop Grasslands. Downloaded from on 16/12/2018.