Anegada: Western salt ponds and coastal areas

Country/territory: Virgin Islands (to UK)

IBA criteria met: A2, A4i, B4i, B4ii (2014)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 4,000 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2014 not assessed high not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2006 baseline)
Anegada is a flat limestone island and has a different landscape from the other islands within the British Virgin Islands. The soils are shallow and alkaline, predominantly composed of calcium carbonate and detritus. Rainfall is approximately 800mm or less throughout the island and as a result, the vegetation is mainly xerophytic, coastal scrub and dry woodland. Mangroves, primarily Red Mangrove, fringe much of the south and east coast and interior wetlands. The western sandy plain consists of edaphic and xeric vegetation. It has the most diverse range of flora including the yellow prickle, Guaiacum sp, and loblollies, Pisonia sp. The entire north coast is sandy beach with calcareous sediments. They are fringed by littoral hedges such as Bay Cedar, and Sea Grape. The IBA covers the networks of salt ponds in the eastern and western ends of the island including the mangrove network that provide important habitats for migratory and resident birds. The Flamingo Pond, a salt pond of over 445 hectares on the Western end of the island was declared as the Anegada Nature Reserve in 1977 and a RAMSAR site in 1999. The extensive ponds on the eastern end of the island with large stands of pristine mangrove are presently unprotected.

Key biodiversity
The extensive salt ponds and wetlands of Anegada provide important habitats for a variety of waterbirds especially the Greater Flamingo and the West Indian Whistling-Duck, which were both extirpated by the early 20th century. However, a successful reintroduction of the Greater Flamingo consisting of 20 birds was launched in 1990 and subsequently began nesting in 1995, expanding the colony currently to over 80 birds. The wetlands are an important habitat for herons and egrets and water birds such as the White-cheeked Pintail. Anegada contains ideal habitats for the Piping Plover, which has been recorded in the past, additionally several species of shorebirds nest on the flats, such as the Snowy Plover, Wilson's Plover, and Black-necked Stilt. Terns, including the Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Roseate Tern, Common Tern, and Least Tern, either nest on Anegada or feed in the salt ponds and surrounding waters. It is thought the IBA may be found to qualify in the future for the A4i and A4iii criteria but data is currently lacking. Anegada is also an important habitat for land birds such as the permanent residents characteristic of mangrove and coastal scrub. These include the Green-throated Carib, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, and Puerto Rican Flycatcher, which occur throughout the island.

Non-bird biodiversity: While the extensive mangrove and arid coastal habitats are typically West Indian, the island does support endemic wildlife. Plants such as the Anegada Acacia, Acacia anegadensis (CR), and Cyanchum anegadense, are known only on this island, although additional plant species, rare and endangered in other locales, are found here.Anegada is home to the critically endangered Rock Iguana, Cyclura pinguis which is currently being rehabilitated through the conservation efforts of the Trust and its international partners.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Anegada: Western salt ponds and coastal areas. Downloaded from on 06/12/2023.