a1 National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, P. O. Box 1086, Taif, Saudi Arabia
Juniper forest once covered much of the upper slopes (2,000-3,000 m) of the Rift Valley escarpment in the Asir mountains of south-west Saudi Arabia. One of the best preserved tracts is at Raydah near Abha, where a complete altitudinal floristic zonation persists. Although only about 125 bird species have been recorded in the area, the community is of considerable conservation interest due to high densities of endemic species and resident or breeding Afrotropical forest species, together with a wide range of diurnal raptors, owls and nightjars. The forest does not appear to support many Palearctic— African migrants during periods of passage, although several Palearctic species overwinter in considerable numbers. Scrub and mixed deciduous and riparian forest scattered throughout the junipers hold highest bird diversities but the juniper stands are vitally important to the well-being of Yemen Thrush Turdus menachensis, Yemen Warbler Parisoma buryi and Yemen Linnet Carduelis yemenensis populations. The disappearance of juniper forest from neighbouring Yemen necessitates that highest priority conservation action should be given to the remaining intact forests such as Raydah, in an attempt to preserve their unique biodiversity.
c1 Address for correspondence: Glenbeg, Kindlestown Hill, Delgany, Co. Wicklow, Ireland