The proposed La Soufrière National Park occupies the majority of the northern quarter of the island. It is the largest IBA and encompasses St. Vincent’s most northerly and youngest volcano. The volcano’s 1-mile (1.6-km) wide summit crater, whose north-east rim is cut by a crater formed in 1812, lies on the south-west margin of the 1.4-mile (2.2-km) wide Somma crater, which is breached widely to the south-west as a result of slope failure (Smithsonian Institution, 2000). Historically, La Soufrière first erupted in 1718, followed by another in 1812. Both produced major explosions. In 1902, another eruption devastated much of the northern end of the island. That eruption coincided with that of Mount Pelée on Martinique. ‘A lava dome was emplaced in the summit crater in 1971 during a strictly effusive eruption, forming an island in a lake that filled the crater prior to an eruption in 1979. The lake was then largely ejected during a series of explosive eruptions, and the dome was replaced with another’ (Smithsonian Institution, 2000) (Plate 20). Its activity is monitored locally by the Seismic Unit within the Ministry of Agriculture, and in association with the University of the West Indies in Trinidad. The active La Soufrière is one of St. Vincent’s main tourist attractions. Volcanic eruptions have devastating effects on the surrounding ecosystem, which contains a mixture of secondary rainforest and volcanic pioneer vegetation. It is an area of unique ecological significance because it has the largest area of succession forest in St. Vincent (Ivor Jackson and Associates, 2004).
La Soufrière has two (2) Globally-threatened Species and thirteen (13) RRS. Following the 1979 eruption, the entire population of Parrots disappeared, returning some 20 years thereafter. This habitat is also important for the Rufous-throated Solitaire, particularly at higher well-forested elevations, where the birds are often heard. Ivor Jackson and Associates (2004) gave the following description of abundance for the listed Globally-threatened and Restricted-range Species . The RRS Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Green-throated Carib, Grenada Flycatcher, Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, Purple-throated Carib and Scaly-breasted Thrasher were all identified as common, with the Purple-throated Carib being very common on the windward side of La Soufrière. Other species such as the RRS Lesser Antillean Tanager, Brown Trembler and Whistling Warbler were identified as occasional, while the Rufous-throated Solitaire and St. Vincent Parrot rare. The frequency with which certain species such as the Brown Trembler and Scaly-breasted Thrasher was recorded was however dependent on the east/west location (See Ivor Jackson and Associates, 2004).
Non-bird biodiversity: Several of the island's endemic plant species occur within the area, including T. cistoides, M. herbertii, B. rotundifolia, C. tenera and C. vincentiana. The endemic and endangered herpetofauna consists of A. griseus, A. vincentiana, C. vincenti and M. bruesi. Additionally, the endemic tree frog E. shrevei is also found.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: La Soufrière National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/12/2019.