Site description (2006 baseline)
Several of the streams (ghauts) that originate in the Centre Hills forest have a more or less continuous riparian fringe of native forest as they run through the open lowlands of northern Montserrat. This IBA includes the main forested ghauts; it is therefore a discontinuous series of patches. The wooded areas comprise tropical deciduous and semideciduous forest. The watercourses themselves are very small and there is no associated wetland habitat. The forested riparian areas are typically only 50-150 m across and are surrounded by agricultural and residential areas. However, several are directly contiguous with the large Centre Hills forest block.
The majority of the biome-restricted and restricted-range species that occur in Montserrat are found in this IBA. The Green-throated Carib occurs in this IBA at densities twice as high as those in the Centre Hills, reflecting its preference for lower-altitude and forest-edge sites. This IBA is also a relative stronghold for the Lesser Antillean Bullfinch. Antillean Crested Hummingbirds, Scaly-breasted Thrashers and Pearly-eyed Thrashers are all common, occurring at similar densities in this IBA as in the Centre Hills. Bridled Quail-doves and Purple-throated Caribs reach highest densities in the Centre Hills IBA, but are nevertheless regular in the forested ghauts. The Forest Thrush is absent or extremely rare in some of the ghauts contained within this IBA. Nevertheless, in some of the wetter ghauts, and those that have forest that is contiguous with the Centre Hills, it reaches densities comparable with those of the Centre Hills. The Montserrat Oriole is absent, and the Brown Trembler extremely rare in this IBA.
Non-bird biodiversity: The endemic sub-species Montserrat ameiva Ameiva pluvianotata pluvianotata (Teiidae) probably has its stronghold in this IBA. The endemic Montserrat anole Anolis lividus (Iguanidae) and endemic sub-species Southern Leeward dwarf gecko Sphaerodactylus fantasticus ligniservulus (Gekkonidae) are probably common. The endemic sub-species Montserrat black snake Alsophis antillensis manselli (Colubridae) and Montserrat blind worm snake Typhlops monastus monastus (Typhlopidae) may occur.Mountain chicken and Montserrat galliwasp have not been recorded. The northern forested ghauts probably hold a similar bat fauna to the Centre Hills, with all three of Montserrat's species of global concern occurring: Tadarida brasiliensis (Near-threatened), Ardops nichollsi montserrratensis (Nearthreatened endemic sub-species) and Monophyllus plethodon (Near-threatened)is poorly known. It is likely to hold many of the endemic forest insects that occur in the Centre Hills and possibly some distinct species that are characteristic of lowland, drier areas of Montserrat.
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Northern Forested Ghauts. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/northern-forested-ghauts-iba-montserrat-(to-uk) on 29/02/2024.