The Imatong Central Forest Reserve lies in the Imatong mountain range 190 km south-east of Juba on the Ugandan border. The mountains are sharply faulted and many perennial rivers arise within this upland region. The mountains are covered by a range of vegetation-types including Albizia–Terminalia woodland and mixed Khaya lowland semi-evergreen forest up to 1,000 m, and by Podocarpus and Croton–Macaranga–Albizia montane forest at 1,000–2,900 m. Above this, forest is replaced by Hagenia woodland, Erica thicket and areas of bamboo. Average annual rainfall is c.1,500 mm.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. The wide altitudinal range and the site’s location at the meeting point of several biomes means that the Imatong mountains support a wide diversity of species. The site also includes the only known locality for Zoothera guttatamaxis. One species of the Sahel biome (A03) has also been recorded (see Table 2).
Non-bird biodiversity: The site holds a number of endemic plant taxa.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
A part of the area has been proposed as National Park in which much of the remainder of the Forest Reserve would be designated as a buffer zone. The Imatong mountains are inhabited by the Lotuko and the Lango peoples in the east and by the Acholi in the west. Generally they live on the plains at the foot of the mountains, but they are increasingly being forced to move into the highlands, at up to 2,300 m, in search of agricultural land. Within the Forest Reserve boundary there are c.100 settlements with a population of c.35,000 people. Cultivation on steep slopes has led to serious problems of erosion, and hunting pressure at the higher altitudes has increased.