Great Tobago Island

BVITIPA008
Great Tobago Island

Country: British Virgin Islands

Administrative region: Great Tobago (Island)

Central co-ordinates: 18.44519 N, 64.8253 W

Area: 0.95km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

A(i)Site contains one or more globally threatened species, B(ii)Site contains an exceptional number of species of high conservation importance

IPA assessment rationale

The whole island of Great Tobago was identified as a TIPA for its botanical richness and presence of globally threatened plants. This TIPA has the fourth largest area Coastal shrubland habitat in the BVI, but didn’t qualify for sub-criterion C(iii) because of the poor quality of the habitat and high level of disturbance to the vegetation due to feral animal grazing.

Site description

The whole island was identified as a TIPA. The island is uninhabited and in 1995 it was declared a National Park for its seabird colony, forested area and coral reef conservation.

Botanical significance

A large population of the highly threatened Puerto Rico Bank endemic Agave missionum (VU) can be found growing across the island. Unfortunately, the non-native and invasive agave snout weevil has been recorded in this TIPA and is affecting the Agave population’s health and recruitment. Plant species of national high conservation importance recorded on Great Tobago were the Puerto Rican Bank endemics Malpighia woodburyana (VU), Rondeletia pilosa (NT) and Piptocoma antillana (LC). The Greater Antilles endemic Stenocereus fimbriatus (LC) and the West Indies endemic Consolea rubescens (LC) cacti have also been recorded in this TIPA. The Puerto Rican Bank endemic Opuntia repens (LC), locally named jumping cactus (as it breaks off and attaches to anything passing by) is abundant throughout the island.

Habitat and geology

Seasonally deciduous forests and woodland are present in less than a quarter of the island. Most of Great Tobago is dominated by the nationally threatened Coastal shrubland habitat.

Conservation issues

The main threats to this TIPA are invasive species and grazing by feral animals; however, feral goat eradication has been underway for several years on the island with activities intensifying in recent years. A long-term monitoring programme has been established on the island to assess vegetation recovery post-eradication. Five non-native invasive plant species Calotropis procera, Leucaena leucocephala, Argemone mexicana, Aloe vera and Arivela viscosa are actively being controlled. The cactus moth Cactoblastis cactorum which attacks members of the subfamily Opuntioideae has been recorded in the BVI and can pose a threat to the TIPAs cacti populations in the future.

Ecosystem services

Great Tobago was declared a Bird Sanctuary in 1980 for having BVI’s largest and near globally significant colony of magnificent frigate bird. In 1995, it was declared a National Park for its seabird colony, forested area and coral reef conservation.

Site assessor(s)

BVI TIPAs National Team, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; National Parks Trust of the Virgin islands; BVI Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration

IPA criterion A species

Species Qualifying sub-criterion ≥ 1% of global population ≥ 5% of national population 1 of 5 best sites nationally Entire global population Socio-economically important Abundance at site
Agave missionum Trel. A(i) False False True False False
Malpighia woodburyana Vivaldi A(i) False False False False False

Agave missionum Trel.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Malpighia woodburyana Vivaldi

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Bibliography

The BVI TIPAs National Team, 2019

Identifying and Conserving Tropical Important Plant Areas in the British Virgin Islands (2016-2019): Final Technical Report

Available online

Recommended citation

BVI TIPAs National Team (2021) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Great Tobago Island (British Virgin Islands). https://tipas.kew.org/site/great-tobago-island/ (Accessed on 13/06/2021)

Acknowledgement

Map of the BVI TIPAs Network available from ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World