Establishment of Montserrat Botanic Garden
Establishing a new botanic garden for Montserrat as a resource for islanders, an attraction for overseas tourists and a centre for conservation activity
Construction of the orchid shade house at Montserrat Botanic Garden
Photo: Stewart Henchie
One casualty of Montserrat's devastating volcanic eruptions between 1995 and 1997 was the island's botanic garden located in the Agricultural Station in Plymouth, then the capital of this UK Overseas Territory.
In 2005, the Montserrat National Trust decided to create a new botanic garden, to provide a resource for the islanders and as an attraction for overseas tourists. A participatory workshop facilitated by Kew staff established the key roles of the new Botanic Garden as education and training for children and other residents of Montserrat, and scientific research into the island's ecosystems and their long-term conservation.
A key role of the botanic garden is to provide a link with the Centre Hills, the largest remaining area of intact biodiversity-rich forest on the island, by displaying some of the native and endemic species found there. This also highlights the activities of the Darwin Project Enabling the People of Montserrat to Conserve the Centre Hills. Other features include a medicinal plant garden, a ghaut habitat representing the vegetation found in the island's steep-sided valleys and an orchid house. A plant nursery with shade house and other facilities have also been constructed to propagate materials for the garden and for possible reintroduction projects, linking to another OTEP-funded project Strengthening capacity for Species Action Planning in Montserrat.
As a project partner, Kew has supported the development of the garden, by providing technical expertise and advice, from the initial preparation of the master plan (Annex 1) through to the installation and mapping of garden features and facilities (Annex 2). Plant labels have been produced and attached to all of the trees and shrubs in the botanic garden. Kew has also built capacity for further developments within the gardens, by providing horticultural training in propagation and collections management.
The endemic shrub, Rondeletia buxifolia, has been established at the botanic garden. It has been planted along part of the Boundary as a demonstration hedge with a view to promoting its use in preference to other non-native and potentially invasive species currently used for hedging.
Project partners and collaborators
Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP) - Project No. MNT203
Clubbe, C., Hamilton, M., and Corcoran, M. (2009). 26(1&2): 131-141.
UKOTs blog (October 2011): Finding new plants on Montserrat