Montserrat: the Caribbean's Emerald Isle
Montserrat, one of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, lies 43 km SW of Antigua and 64 km NW of Guadeloupe. The volcanic island, 17 km long and 11 km wide, is mountainous, with streams and waterfalls amongst dense tropical vegetation. The rugged coastline offers no all-weather harbour, although several anchorages are sheltered by the island from the prevailing trade winds.

Montserrat is known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean due to a combination of historical Irish influences and the lush greenness of the landscape. The Montserrat National Trust, founded by ordinance in 1970, has been involved in activities aimed at conserving the natural and cultural heritage of Montserrat.

On 18 July 1995, the Soufriere Hills volcano in the south of the island became active for the first time in 350 years. Increased pyroclastic activity killed 19 people on 25 June 1997. The capital, Plymouth, was destroyed after the Gages wall was overtopped in August 1997.

Half of the island has been evacuated and much of it will probably remain uninhabitable for the next decade or more. The effects of the eruptions on the island's plants and animals are being studied where circumstances allow. Extensive monitoring of the Montserrat oriole - the National Bird - the mountain chicken and other important key indicator species, is ongoing. The Montserrat galliwasp has been sighted for the first time in over 30 years and more scientific research into habitat is necessary. Since volcanic activity began, the human population on the island has declined from approximately 11,000 to about 4,500. Volcanic activity has declined since March 1998. A sustainable development plan has been developed for Montserrat and it will be important to integrate environmental aspects into the island’s redevelopment.

about Virtual Tours....

click images for larger versions
Despite its small size, Montserrat supports at least 132 tree species, 59 species of birds and 13 mammals. The Montserrat oriole (pictured) is found nowhere else. Also restricted to Montserrat are the galliwasp (pictured) and another (unnamed) lizard. The endangered and edible 'mountain chicken' (a frog) is found only on Montserrat and Dominica. Several other species are restricted to Montserrat and some nearby islands.
Photographs courtesy of Sara Cross, Montserrat National Trust and the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum Library. Painting by Tracy Pedersen.
The UKOTCF is a Registered Charity (1058483) - keen to develop partnerships with business or commercial organisations
Monserrat Virtual Tour