The Department of Environment is cautioning the public against conducting undesirable activities in the ghauts, ravines and forested areas of Montserrat that can cause severe degradation to the area.
According to environment officials, during a recent patrol it was discovered that a number of trees had been cut down in the forest, resulting in significant damage to the natural habitat and leaving areas vulnerable to erosion and landslides.
Quite a number of species of trees that line the ghauts, ravines and forests are either fully or partially protected under current legislation; The Conservation and Environmental Management Act (CEMA). A permit from the department is required to clear forested land for agriculture, setting coal pits or felling trees for timber.
Residents are encouraged to refrain from continuing activities that are detrimental to the environment and could also impact the integrity of the watershed which could compromise the islands water supply.
Officials say they are “cognizant of the impact on persons who use forests and their products for their livelihood, but stresses checks and balances are in place for a reason and should be adhered to at all times. The forested areas of Montserrat are home to a rich unique and diverse biodiversity, including a number of endemic species that are only found on Montserrat or restricted to a few neighbouring islands. Unmanaged activity in these areas can lead to forest fragmentation that can upset nature’s equilibrium resulting in the loss of key species.”