The Government Forest Reserve (GFR) comprise of 7290 hectares of tropical moist forest that straddles the central mountain massif running from north to south of the Island. The
GFR is divided into 5 ranges for management purposes, these are: Northern Range, Dennery Range, Millet Range, Soufriere Range and Quilesse Range. Northern Range is located in the north of the Island and is adjacent to the communities of Desbarrah, Des Chassin, Forestiere and Marc. Dennery Range lies more east/central and is adjacent to the communities of Aux-Leon, Denniere Riviere, Grand Riviere and Dennery. Millet Range lies west/central and is bonded by the communities of Millet, Ravine Poisson, Anse-la-Raye and Cannaries. Soufriere Range lies south/western and is adjacent to the communities of Fond St. Jacques and Saltibus while Quilesse Range is adjacent to the communities of Desruisseaux and Tirocher in the southeast. There are no human settlements within the Government Forest Reserve.
The bird species of national importance within the GFR are as follows: St. Lucia Amazon Amazona versicolor, St. Lucia Black Finch Melanospiza richardsoni, St. Lucia Oriole Icterus laudabilis, St. Lucia Pewee Contopus oberi, St. Lucia Warbler Dendroica delicata, St. Lucia Flycatcher Myiachus oberi sanctae luceae and Semper’s Warbler Leucopeza semperi. Other bird species that inhabit the area are: Banana Quit Coereba flaveola, Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis, Black-faced Grass Quit Tiaris bicolor, Broad-Winged hawk Buteo platypterus, Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, Green heron Butorides virescens, Grey Trembler Cinclocerthia gutturalis, Brown Trembler Cinclocerthia ruficauda, Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor, Common Ground Dove Columbina passerina, Red-Necked Pigeon Patagioenas squamosa, Caribbean Elaenia Elaenia martinica, Purple-throated Carib Eulampis jugularis, Antillean Euphonia Euphonia musica, American Kestrel Falco sparverius, Ruddy Quail Dove Geotrygon montana, Bridled Quail Dove Geotrygon mystacea, Scaly-Breasted Thrasher Margarops fuscus, Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus, Antillean Crested Hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus, Carib Grackle Quiscalus lugubris, Lesser Antillean Saltator Saltator albicolis, Bare-eyed Thrush Turdus nudigenis, Grey Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis, Black-whispered Vireo Vireo altiloquus, Zenaida Dove Zenaida aurita.
The proposed IBA is important for many species of migrants including warblers. The area is wholly forested with high canopy forest sustaining a myriad of species.
Non-bird biodiversity: Other endemic species found in the GFR include the St. Lucia Boa constrictor Constrictor orophias, St. Lucia viper Bothrops caribbaeus, St. Lucia anole Anolis luceae and St. Lucia Pygmy Gecko Sphaerodactylus microlepis Mammal species found in the forest include, Agouti (non-native, naturalised) Dasyprocta Antilles, and the bats Artibeus jamaicensis, Brachyphylla cavemum, Monophyllus plethodon and Ardops nichollsi (none of these are island endemics but the last 3 are regional endemics)
Endemic Flora: Acalypha elizabethae, Bernardia laurentii, Beilschmieda pendula, Chrysochlamys caribaea, Daphnopsis macrocarpa, Miconia luciana, Miconia secunda, Siparuna sanctae-luciae, Lobelia sanctae luciae.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Some of the threats to the Government Forest Reserve include the following:
Non-native predators – especially small Indian mongoose; black, brown rats
Hurricanes – St. Lucia lies in the hurricane belt of the eastern Caribbean and as a result is vulnerable to hurricane strikes each year during the hurricane season which runs from June to November. However, the last hurricane to hit the Island was Hurricane Allen in 1980 where over 80% of the forest was either damaged or destroyed.
Fires – Although there are no records of a serious fire in the Government Forest Reserve, the threat is still present. Every year during the height of the dry season, conditions within the GRF are conducive for forest fires with lots of fire fodder.
Pest and disease – Increase in global travel also increases the threat and the spread of new pest and disease. The GFR is always vulnerable to new pest and disease as was the case in Grenada some years ago with the arrival of the hibiscus Pink Mealy Bug which devastated their Blue Mahoe plantations. Another case in point is the threat of Avian Influenza Virus - with the passage every year of migratory avian species through our hemisphere.
Global Climate Change – The forecast of sea level rise and all its accompanying scenarios as a result of global warming can be a direct threat to the GFR. With severe weather of either drought or heavy rains, both can have negative consequences on the GFR.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
A pilot project is currently on the way to test a new method to census the St. Lucia Amazon. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is collaborating with the Forestry Department on this initiative. Botanist Roger Graveson is conducting an ongoing floral inventory.
The entire Government Forest Reserve is a protected area. This designation was made in 1946. The protected area is identical to the proposed IBA.
Habitat and land use
The Government Forest Reserve (GFR) consists generally of high canopy forest with rainfall ranging from 3000 – 36000mm per year. According to the Holdridge scheme of life zones based on elevation, precipitation and evaporation, the life zones in the Government Forest Reserve range from Subtropical Wet forest transition to Subtropical Rainforest. Elevation ranges from 0 – 950 meters and an average temperature of 25˚C. The GFR comprise mainly of natural forest with a few exotic species in small plantations. The dominant tree species in the natural forest are: Dacryodes excelsa, Sloanea caribaea, Manilkara bidentata and Tauloma dodecapetala. Plantations consist mainly of Broad leaf Mahogany Swietenia macrophylla and Blue Mahoe Hibiscus elatus . The major land use is forestry and nature conservation. Research, tourism and recreation fall under minor land use.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Castries and Dennery Waterworks Reserve and Marquis. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 28/01/2023.