Mabira Forest Reserve

Country/territory: Uganda

IBA criteria met: A1, A3 (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 30,600 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2012 favourable low medium
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2001 baseline)
Mabira Forest Reserve is the largest block of moist semi-deciduous forest remaining in the central region of Uganda. The reserve occupies gently undulating country, characterized by numerous flat-topped hills and wide, shallow valleys. Some of these valleys have papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) swamps. The topography is such that the land drains to the north, even though the reserve’s southern boundary lies only 13 km from the shores of Lake Victoria. Forest in the reserve covers c.29,000 ha and is considered to be secondary, in which the distinct vegetation-types are sub-climax communities, heavily influenced by humans over prolonged periods of time. The reserve is isolated from other protected areas by settled agricultural land. Commercial use began when some parts were harvested for timber in the early 1900s, and until 1988, agricultural encroachment for intensive coffee/banana plantations was badly damaging large parts of the reserve. The closeness of Mabira to Kampala, and the presence of various ecotourism facilities, make this IBA a popular site for visitors.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 3 for key species. The list for Mabira Forest Reserve contains almost 300 species. Many species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome are not well-represented in other protected areas in Uganda, for instance Francolinus nahani, Caprimulgus nigriscapularis, Phyllanthus atripennis, Macrosphenus concolor and Trochocercus nitens. Mabira Forest was heavily encroached in the 1970s and 1980s, which may have had adverse effects on the forest birds, particularly on the habitat specialists. Three species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome are known, but further surveys in the valley papyrus swamps could reveal more. The site also holds one species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome and four of the Afrotropical Highlands biome.

Non-bird biodiversity: Two hundred and two tree species have been recorded, including one (Diphasia angolensis) not known from elsewhere in Uganda. Five tree species from this reserve are of international conservation concern: Milicia excelsa (LR/nt), Cordia millenii, Irvingia gabonensis (LR/nt), Entandrophragma angolense(VU) and Lovoa swynnertonii (EN). The present status of the larger mammals is not known; Loxodonta africana (EN) was last recorded in the mid-1950s.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Mabira Forest Reserve. Downloaded from on 27/02/2024.