Under the shadow of a volcano


Montserrat is home to many rare species of plant and animal, including the endemic orchid Epidendrum montserratense (listed on CITES Appendix II) whose habitat has been destroyed by pyroclastic flows from the volcano. Photo: Martin Hamilton © The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

JNCC's Alison Littlewood participated in a CITES training visit to the volcanic island of Montserrat, a UK Overseas Territory.


Montserrat is located in the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, and measures approximately 16km (10 miles) long and 11 km (7 miles) wide, with a population of around 4,800; it was significantly affected by the major eruption that occurred in 1995-97.  The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) was extended to Montserrat, in 1976.  CITES is one of a number of international biodiversity agreements on which JNCC provides technical advice to the UK Government and Overseas Territories governments.


A project to enable more effective implementation of CITES by Montserrat and to achieve compliance with CITES' national legislation project has been funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, through the Overseas Territories Environment Programme. The project included a critical internal review of Montserrat’s current legislation, systems and practices with recommendations for improvements, along with training in CITES implementation and enforcement.


As part of this project Alison Littlewood (CITES Senior Adviser, JNCC), together with colleagues from Animal Health (UK CITES Management Authority) and UK Border Agency, visited Montserrat in August 2009. Included in the visit was a three-day workshop aimed at building the capacity of its officials to effectively implement CITES. Representatives from government departments, enforcement authorities and non-governmental organisations attended the workshop which included a general introduction to CITES, as well as opportunities to learn new skills such as techniques for identifying species in trade. Representatives from other UK Overseas Territories within the Caribbean region (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands) also attended the workshop in order to share experiences and raise awareness of the types of activities being focussed on in each Territory.


Workshops gave delegates the chance to learn new skills including how to identify species in trade. © Charles MackayJNCC, along with the other experts from metropolitan UK, also carried out a series of site visits to trade outlets and conducted interviews with key personnel from the different departments and non-governmental organisations.  A review of reported and unreported trade in CITES-listed species, to and from, Montserrat was also conducted, and a risk assessment carried out for those species most likely to be in trade which should be the focus of attention by the authorities.


Following on from the visit it is intended that a stakeholder workshop will be organised to develop an action plan, to address the recommendations by the UK experts, and consider what practical measures are required to enhance CITES implementation and enforcement in Montserrat.  JNCC, in its capacity as the UK CITES Scientific Authority for animals will continue to offer scientific support and technical advice to the Montserrat authorities.




Alison Littlewood

Senior CITES Adviser

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866814