|Location||Montserrat (to UK)|
|Central coordinates||62o 12.00' West 16o 45.36' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2|
|Altitude||150 - 741m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2007|
Site description This site is the largest remaining forest area on Montserrat, forming a single, almost continuous block of hill forest in the centre of the island. A series of small, steep streams (known locally as ghauts) radiate from central ridges. The boundary goes beyond the forest reserve to include areas where the Montserrat Oriole is found. There is a transitionfrom tropical deciduous forest in the drier lowlands (especially on the eastern and north-eastern sides), through semi-deciduous and evergreen tropical forest at higher altitudes to elfin forest on the summit of Katy Hill. The majority of the forest is secondary, having been cleared foragriculture during the plantation era. The frequent passage of hurricanes ensures that there is a range of successional stages. Most of the area is steep and pathless. Apart from small agricultural and banana plots around the periphery, the area is little used or visited by humans. It forms the main water catchment for the inhabited area of the island, and recently several trails have been cleared to allow tourists to explore the area.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Bridled Quail-dove Geotrygon mystacea||resident||1997-2003||100-1,000 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Purple-throated Carib Eulampis jugularis||resident||1997-2003||12,000-42,000 individuals||good||A2||Least Concern|
|Green-throated Carib Eulampis holosericeus||resident||1997-2003||100-1,000 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Antillean Crested Hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus||resident||1997-2003||32,000-127,000 individuals||good||A2||Least Concern|
|Caribbean Elaenia Elaenia martinica||resident||2008||unknown||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Scaly-breasted Thrasher Margarops fuscus||resident||1997-2003||3,800-12,800 individuals||good||A2||Least Concern|
|Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus||resident||1997-2003||20,000-36,000 individuals||good||A2||Least Concern|
|Brown Trembler Cinclocerthia ruficauda||resident||1997-2003||500-2,000 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Forest Thrush Turdus lherminieri||resident||1997-2003||1,800-5,200 individuals||good||A1, A2||Vulnerable|
|Montserrat Oriole Icterus oberi||resident||1997-2003||930-3,000 individuals||medium||A1, A2||Critically Endangered|
|Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis||resident||1997-2003||unknown||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Centre Hills||Forest Reserve||0||protected area overlaps with site||0|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial - terrestrial||minor|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|Notes: The forest is the main water catchment for the inhabited area of the island.|
|Notes: Small agricultural and banana plots around the periphery of the forest.|
|nature conservation and research||-|
Other biodiversity As by far the largest area under broadly natural vegetation cover in Montserrat, the Centre Hills is the stronghold for much native wildlife, including many of the island's endemic species and sub-species. The Montserrat galliwasp Diploglossus montisserrati (CR) has only ever been recorded from the Cassava Ghaut area of the Centre Hills. The mountain chicken Leptodactylus fallax occurs relatively abundantly and is absent elsewhere on the island (this, the second largest frog in the world, is found only in Dominica and Montserrat). The endemic Montserrat anole Anolis lividus (Iguanidae) is common in the Centre Hills, and through many parts of the island. The Montserrat ameiva Ameiva pluvianotata pluvianotata (Teiidae) and Southern Leeward dwarf gecko Sphaerodactylus fantasticus ligniservulus (Gekkonidae) are endemic sub-species. The former is found in the edges of the Centre Hills, but is more common in the lowlands. The latter is abundant in the Centre Hills and throughout Montserrat. The endemic subspecies Montserrat black snake Alsophis antillensis manselli (Colubridae) is relatively common in the Centre Hills, but rarer in inhabited areas of Montserrat. The endemic subspecies Montserrat blind worm snake Typhlops monastus monastus (Typhlopidae) occurs in the Centre Hills, and at some other sites in Montserrat, but its status is poorly known.As a generalisation, bat diversity on Montserrat is thought to be highest in the southern and western ghauts of the Centre Hills (Soldier Ghaut to Sappit Spring) (S Pedersen, personal communication). Tadarida brasiliensis (Nearthreatened) is probably present in this IBA, and is believed to be common and widespread throughout Montserrat, though under-recorded (ibid.). The endemic sub-species Ardops nichollsi montserrratensis is common on Montserrat, but specialises in smaller, native fruits, and although widespread, its population is likely to be concentrated in higher-altitude native forests. Hence, the Centre Hills are probably an important stronghold on the island. Similarly, the nectarivorous Monophyllus plethodon (Near-threatened) is probably most common in the Centre Hills, but widespread elsewhere in Montserrat.The insect fauna of Montserrat has been little studied, but was the subject of a major research project in 2000-2003, which focused on the Centre Hills. Extremely high levels of endemism are apparent. For example, several hundred to a thousand beetle species are thought to be present in the IBA, of which approximately 30% are previously undescribed, and 10% are endemic. The Centre Hills may be home to the world's smallest Cerambycid (longhorn beetle). An enormous scarab beetle larva found in dead logs in the Centre Hills awaits identification, but is likely to be a new genus; it is certainly endemic and may be the largest insect in the UK and its Territories. Among other taxa, the Centre Hills holds an undescribed endemic sawfly, an undescribed endemic long-horned grasshopper, and several undescribed flies that may be endemic. Although sampling has not been sufficiently widespread to determine the Montserratian range of these species, it is inevitable that the Centre Hills is the most important site on the island, since it is the largest area of natural vegetation and covers a large altitudinal range. It is important for the following globally threatened plant species: the red cedar Cedrela odorata (VU), lignum vitae Guaiacum officinale (EN), Brazilian mahogany Sweitenia macrophylla (VU) and American mahogany Swieteniamahagoni (EN).
Protection status The Centre Hills area, although largely privately owned, is a forest reserve. Species protection is provided for by the Wild Birds Protection (Amendment) Ordinance (1987). A new proposal to declare the Centre Hills a National Park, and develop a site management plan is in the early stages of preparation.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Centre Hills. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/07/2014
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