The Botanic Gardens are the oldest in the western hemisphere and were established in 1765 as an outstation of the Kew Gardens in London. Initially, it was set aside to propagate valuable exotic plants from the East. Today, the Botanic Gardens (20 acres/8 ha) and Government House grounds (residence of the Governor General) form a total protected land area of 45 acres (Ivor Jackson and Associates, 2004). Both sites currently have historic importance, and form major tourist attractions. The Nicholls Wildlife Complex, a breeding aviary initiated in for the St. Vincent Parrot in 1988, lies within this Reserve.
The site lies as the foot of Mount St. Andrew, the island’s highest southern peak and therefore supports several species that may otherwise be found in the rainforest. For example, RRS the Purple-throated Carib, which is usually found at higher elevations on St. Vincent, is recorded here. Thirty-six (36) St. Vincent Parrots are currently housed at the Aviary, with an average of two (2) chicks being produced annually (C. Thomas, pers. comm.).
The site supports several breeding Black Hawks Buteogallus anthracinus and the regionally-endemic (Ivor Jackson and Associates, 2004) Scaly-naped Pigeon is common.
Non-bird biodiversity: The endemic lizard Anolis griseus occurs here. There is also a small population of the regionally-endemic snake M. bruesi .
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The major issues are associated with recreational use, lack of public awareness and the current inadequate operating structure. The Botanic Gardens is one of the most visited tourism sites on the island and hence disturbance is one of the major factors affecting bird. Several species of birds (Scaly-naped Pigeons, Violet-eared Doves Zeneida auriculata , hummingbirds) nest within the Gardens. Tour guides operating there show visitors the young chicks therein causing disturbance to nests. Additionally, although none of SVGs snakes are poisonous, these reptiles are often killed by staff members and tour guides.
The vegetation consists of a mixture of Dry Scrub Woodland, Plantation forest, horticultural and agricultural crops. Several trees are over 100 years old. The exotic vegetation, introduced since the inception of the Botanic Gardens, is a major attraction.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Botanic Gardens Natural Landmark. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 10/08/2022.