The area is approximately 774 hectares in size and located along the south to southeast coast. Terrestrially it comprises of a narrow coastal strip and the Moule-a-Chique peninsula. The terrain is low to undulating, with the highest point being at Moule-a-Chique (223 metres), at the southern tip of St. Lucia. The marine area is proportionately larger, consisting of long sandy beaches, the Savannes Bay and Mankòtè Mangroves, Scorpion Island, the Maria Islands, and several coral reefs and nearshore islands. The vegetation is varied with a predominance of tropical dry forest. The area also includes several historical sites, including old fort sites, a lighthouse and a World War II-vintage radar tracking station.
Several bird species have been recorded for the entire area. At least thirty-two species were observed at Savannes Bay during a study conducted by Robert L. Norton in 1989. Several residents were identified, including one endemic species, the St. Lucia Black Finch (Melanospiza richardsoni). A number of them were also recorded nesting among the mangrove and other ground vegetation. Some of those include Green-backed Heron (Green Heron) and Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Many migrants have also been recorded in the area, for example egrets, herons, kingfishers, warblers, ducks, and waders. The extreme northern end encompasses a swamp occupying an area of approximately 6 acres. This swamp is almost always flooded with water of slightly brackish nature partially fed by the ocean tides. It attracts several bird species almost throughout the year. Many species of ducks, herons, sand pipers, plovers, egrets, gallinules, rails and other shorebirds and waterfowl find a temporary place of sojourn at the pond. Many of these species are seasonal migrants. This IBA is very important for migrants and water birds as the largest wetlands in St. Lucia occur` in this area.
Non-bird biodiversity: The Pointe Sable National area serves as the habitat for five endemic species of herpetofauna, the most note-worthy of which are two species found on the Maria Islands and nowhere else in the world: the St. Lucia Racer (Llophis ornatus) and the St. Lucia Whiptail (Cnemidophorus vanzoi). Maria Major is free of rats and mongooses and supports 5 endemic reptile species, plus several non-endemics. Marine life is just as important. Juvenile fishes are very common among the mangrove and seagrass areas. This habitat particularly in the Mankote area is dominated by three mangrove types. They are, (Rhizophora mangle), (Avicennia germinans), and (Laguncularia racemosa). A fourth mangrove type, (Conocarpus erecta) also exist, but it is quite rare.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Several elements both individually and collectively pose considerable threats to the area. Some are natural occurrences while others are human induced. Those threats include:
Natural disasters – The Island is prone to hurricanes and storms, and these events may have catastrophic effects on the natural resources of the area.
Non-native predators – small Indian mongoose; black, brown rats
Charcoal production – The mangroves are situated within an area of rapid commercial development, and are subjected to several impacts. In the Mankoté end, harvesting for charcoal is undertaken by the Aupicon Charcoal Producers Group. However, indiscriminate harvesting of the mangrove by unauthorized persons is common and conflicts with the sustainable management approach used by the Aupicon group.
Mining – Mining and quarrying activities nearby result in the discharge of chemicals and other industrial waste into the immediate environment.
Pollution – Indiscriminate disposal of household garbage by nearby residents may cause pollution and further degradation to the resources.
Unemployment – It is important to know the socioeconomic context in which the proposed management area will be located; unemployment and poverty levels in the immediate surroundings of any area with abundant harvestable natural resources can be an indicator of the threats and challenges its managers will face
Over ambitious investors – At the same time at the other end of the economic scale, the presence of investors flush with money may present threats and challenges of a more serious kind; construction of hotels, golf courses and piers on the shoreline in the name of “development” has the potential to negatively impact or eliminate coastal ecosystems.
Deforestation – Deforestation of upland areas may subsequently cause destruction to the coastal areas. These ecosystems are the primary habitat for fish (sea grass, mangroves and coral reefs) are being slowly degraded by the effects of deforestation in upland areas.
Illegal Hunting - Illegal hunting of sea urchin harvesting for local consumption and export to Martinique is common.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Within the Mankoté area, technical assistance and training was provided to the members of the ACAPG by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) for the production of charcoal, by proper management of the mangrove. Only the 16 ACAPG members could legally cut mangroves. A trained member would measure the stems and give the OK to cut suitable trees in the approved method to ensure sustainability.
There has been monitoring of the St. Lucia Whiptail carried out by the Forestry Department and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust on Maria Islands.
There has also been monitoring of nesting seabirds on Maria Islands, conducted by the Forestry Department.
Nature Reserves – Maria Islands. These sites were declared nature reserves in 1982, and are contained within the IBA.
Marine Reserves – Anse Pointe Sable to Mankoté Mangrove, Savannes Bay Mangrove, Maria Islands’ Reef – declared reserves in 1986; Reef from Ceasar Point to Mathurin Point – declared reserves in 1990. These sites are also found within the IBA
Habitat and land use
Tropical dry forest is predominant, but the overall vegetation is varied being grassland, coconut groves, mangroves and scrub forest. In addition there are four coastal ecosystem types present namely seagrass beds, mangroves, coral reefs, and nearshore islands. There are permanent settlements and human habitation within the boundaries of the area. Significant amounts of mangrove are found in the Savannes bay and Mankoté areas, constituting significant portions of the total wetland area present. These wetlands are situated within an area of rapid commercial development, and are subject to several impacts. There are signs of past agricultural activity as evidenced by patches of coconut plantations and the mangroves are being harvested for charcoal. There are also small scale mining and quarrying activities nearby. Tourism and recreation is a major land use activity, other minor activities include fisheries, pasture land, nature conservation and research. The Nature and marine Reserves are owned by the state.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Point Sables. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 25/11/2020.