South Soufriere Hills

Country/territory: Montserrat (to UK)

IBA criteria met: A1, A2 (2007)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 35 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)
Covers the one small patch of the original forests in the South Soufriere Hills that has survived the pyroclastic flows from the volcano. Despite being no more than 1 mile (1.5 km) from the Chances Peak volcano, an area of evergreen and semi-deciduous forest has remained intact. The area has been little explored since 1997, since it is in the exclusion zone, but fieldworkers were able to make brief visits in 2001 and 2002. The forest appears to be in good condition.

Key biodiversity
The site was known as a hot-spot for Montserrat Orioles prior to the eruption. During brief visits in 2001 and 2002 the continued presence of the species at relatively high densities was confirmed and fledglings were seen. Densities in Roche's Forest appear to be similar to those in the most favoured parts of the Centre Hills, and perhaps 50-100 pairs are present. Roche's holds the majority of the restricted-range and biome-restricted species that occur on Montserrat. During point counts in 2001 and 2002, Antillean Crested Hummingbirds, Scaly-breasted Thrashers and Pearly-eyed Thrashers were frequent; Bridled Quail-doves, Greenthroated Caribs, Forest Thrushes and Brown Tremblers were all recorded. Lesser Antillean Bullfinches were recorded in exceptional numbers. The Purple-throated Carib was not recorded.

Non-bird biodiversity: Many of the forest species found in the Centre Hills probably also occur in this IBA, but data are almost completely lacking, especially for the post-eruption period. Among the herptiles, the Montserrat anole Anolis lividus (Iguanidae), Southern Leeward dwarf gecko Sphaerodactylus fantasticus ligniservulus (Gekkonidae), Montserrat black snake Alsophis antillensis manselli (Colubridae) and Montserrat blind worm snake Typhlops monastus monastus (Typhlopidae) may all occur. Blankenship (1990) reports that the mountain chicken Leptodactylus fallax is absent from the Roche's area. The major insect sampling project that ran from 2000 to 2003 made brief sampling visits to Roche's, but in general the insect fauna of the site is poorly known. It is likely to hold many of the endemic forest insects that occur in the Centre Hills. An undescribed endemic long-horned grasshopper has been found in Roche's as well as the Centre Hills. There is also an undescribed, endemic soldier beetle (Cantharidae) and two undescribed, endemic darkling ground beetle species (Tenebrionidae) from Roche's. The bat fauna of Roche's is thought never to have been sampled. However, predictions are that Tadarida brasiliensis (Near-threatened) and Ardops nichollsi montserrratensis (Near-threatened) are likely to be present, unless the heavy ash falls in that area have adversely affected them.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: South Soufriere Hills. Downloaded from on 23/02/2024.