Mahé highlands and Important Bird Area
The Mahé highlands and surrounding areas Important Bird Area occupies the central and north-western part of the island of Mahé in the Seychelles archipelago of the western Indian Ocean.
The Important Bird Area (IBA) has an area of 4600 ha, covering about 20% of the island. It encompasses the 3045 ha Morne Seychellois National Park, which includes the 914 m peak of Morne Seychellois, the highest mountain of Seychelles. During the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries there was extensive exploitation of the original forests for timber as well as for cinnamon plantations. Present human activity, including forestry, tourism and some tea cultivation, affect less than 10% of the area of the IBA.
Land within the national park is characterised by steep terrain covered with dense secondary forest and shrub woodland, punctuated by cliffs and large granite boulders. Above 600 m elevation there are remnant stands of primary forest with few exotics. Endemic species include the very rare Medusagyne oppositifolia and Vateriopsis seychellarum, the commoner Dillenia ferruginea and Northea hornei, as well as Phoenicophorium borsigianum, Nephrosperma vanhoutteanum, Erythroxylum sechellarum, Nepenthes pervillei and Secamone schimperianus.
Outside the national park the IBA includes the mountainous area to the south-east as well as the adjacent districts of La Misère and Cascade. The latter contain much anthropogenic habitat, such as orchards, small farms, tea plantations, housing, roads and other infrastructure. Forests at low and intermediate altitudes are dominated by exotic plants such as Cinnamomum verum, Falcataria moluccana (= Paraserianthes falcataria), Alstonia macrophylla and Chrysobalanus icaco.
The site has been identified as an IBA by BirdLife International because it supports populations of Seychelles kestrels, Seychelles blue-pigeons, Seychelles scops-owls, Seychelles swiftlets, Seychelles bulbuls, Seychelles white-eyes and Seychelles sunbirds.