The Morne Trois Pitons National Park is the largest of Dominica’s three national parks, and comprises some of the best remaining examples of volcanic island ecosystems in the Caribbean. The park protects active volcanic and geothermal areas, mountains, clear streams, various forms of wild fauna (including Dominica’s two Amazona parrot species), and various types of tropical forest for conservation, educational, scientific, recreational and scenic purposes. Morne Trois Pitons, with a height of 1,424m and named by the island’s early French settlers for its three prominent peaks, is the second highest mountain on Dominica. The Park is 64.7km2 and starts at approximately 152m elevation at the lowest point in the southeast to 1,424m at the summits of Morne Trois Pitons.
The Park was established in July 1975 under the National Parks and Protected Areas Act and contains some 6,475 hectares of state-owned lands. John D. Archbold donated another 375 hectares to be included as the Archbold Preserve. The Morne Trois Pitons National Park was enlisted by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997, and was formally inscribed the following year.
Some of the natural attractions within the Park include: the Emerald Pool, Freshwater Lake, Boeri Lake, Boiling Lake and the Valley of Desolation, and Middleham Falls.
There are several communities located in close proximity to the western, southwestern and southeastern boundaries of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, and these include: Eggleston, Cochrane, Grand Fond, Laudat, Giraudel, Petite Savanne and Bagatelle.
This MTPNP supports one endangered and one vulnerable species of Parrot (Amazona imperialis and A. arausiaca respectively), and 15 restricted-range species. Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia), Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina), Blackpoll Warbler (Dendroica striata), Northern Waterthrush (Seiurus noveboracensis), and Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) are the more common migrant species seen within the Freshwater Lake area. The Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), Yellow-crowned Night Heron ( Nyctanassa violaceus), Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), Northern Shoveler (Actitis macularia), Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes), Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon), Ringed Kingfisher (Ceryle torquatus) are the species most frequently observed in the park.
Some of the other species of interest found within the MTPNP include the Blue-headed Hummingbird (Cyanophaia bicolor) that is endemic only to Dominica and Martinique; the Plumbeous Warbler (Dendroica plumbea) that occurs only on Dominica, Guadeloupe and Marie Galante; the Forest Thrush (Cichlherminia lherminieri), and the Rufous-throated Solitaire (Myadestes genibarbis). In May 2007, a Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) was found in the village of Trafalgar, which is within only 3km from the boundaries of the park.
Non-bird biodiversity: Other flora found in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park include (Symphonia globulifera) Mang Blan, (Licania ternatensis) Bwa Dyab, (Tovomita plumieri) Mang Rouge, (Cyrilla racemiflora) Bwa Rouge, (Chimarhis cymosa) Bwa Riviere, (Richeria grandis) Bwa Bandé, (Talauma dodecapetala) Bwa Pen, (Clusia mangle) Kaklen, (Euterpe broadwayi and (Prestoea acuminate) Palmiste, (Cyathea spp.) Tree Fern and the endemic bromeliad (Pitcairnia micotrinensis).
Fauna species include several of Dominica’s twelve species of Bats, Agouti (Dasyprocta leporine), Opossum (Didelphys marsupialis insularis), Boa Constrictor (Constrictor constrictor nebulosa) and at least two other snake species Kouwès nwè (Alsophis antillensis sibonius) and Kouwès jengá (Liophis juliae juliae), the endemic Tree Lizard (Anolis oculatus), Hercules Beetle (Dynastes hercules Hercules) and an endemic tink frog Eleutherodactylus amplinympha.
Habitat and land use
Morne Trois Pitons National Park (MTPNP) is an area of extremely high rainfall and is largely covered by elfin woodland and montane forest, with rainforest at lower elevations. There are also montane swamps dominated by Symphonia globulifera and Amanoa caribaea, and patches of marsh lands dominated by sedges (Eleocharis spp)
The dominant tree species are Gommier (Dacryodes excelsa), Chatannyé (Sloanea caribaea), Karapit (Amanoa caribaea) and Mang Blan (Symphonia globulifera) in the rainforest, with Kaklen (Clusia mangle) being the dominant species at higher elevations.
Most of the land in the park serves as protection forests, but the natural attractions listed above, as well as the nature trails (e.g. to the summit of Morne Trois Pitons and Morne Anglais), have been developed for recreation and nature tourism. The park serves as a watershed area and provides water for the island’s four (connected) hydro-electricity power plants. The Freshwater Lake serves as a reservoir to provide water for hydro-electricity power plants. Some other areas serve as potable water catchments for rural and urban communities.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Volcanic Eruptions: The fact that the MTPNP encompasses one of the more active volcanic centres on Dominica, gives rise to high future volcanic eruption that will impact on the birds’ habitat and food source.
Deforestation: there is small scale illegal agricultural farming activity in the areas where the birds inhabit and if allowed to continue will impact on population size of both species and food source.
Habitat loss: There is much concern of loss of habitat due to agricultural expansion which impacts on availability of nesting trees and food for both parrot species.
Hurricanes: Dominica like the other Eastern Caribbean Islands lies in the path of hurricane belt and as a result are vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storm strikes annually. Some of these storms impact on nest cavities and food source of both species of parrots.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Research is ongoing on Dominica’s two parrot species within the MTPNP in collaboration with the Rare Species Foundation (RSCF) based in Florida. There is also ongoing research on the Tink frogs (Eleutherodactylus amplinympha, E. martinicensis) within the area of Freshwater Lake and along the Boeri Lake Trail and the Morne Trois Pitons Trail by Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division in collaboration with MoAFE and Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The MTPNP is managed primarily by the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division.
Various forms of short-term research on wild flora, fauna and geology are conducted in the park by overseas-based institutions. The Seismic Research Unit of the University of the West Indies/Trinidad is also conducting ongoing research on volcanic and seismic activity in the park.
Plans are ongoing to develop sites within the park for nature tourism, and the Freshwater Lake is currently being utilized by a community group to provide recreational boating and kayaking services.
The Morne Trois Pitons National Park is the largest of Dominica’s three national parks. The Park was established in July 1975 under the National Parks and Protected Areas Act and contains some 6,475 hectares of state-owned lands. John D. Archbold donated another 375 hectares to be included as the Archbold Preserve. The Morne Trois Pitons National Park was enlisted by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997, and was formally inscribed the following year.