Ecosystem Assessment – Montserrat

In November we visited the island of Montserrat. Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory in the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles island chain. The Island’s capital, Plymouth, was devastated and abandoned after the eruption, in 1995, of the Soufrière Hills volcano.

Preliminary fieldwork on the island with the gases from the Soufrière Hills volcano clearly visible on the horizon

Environment Systems has been commissioned by JNCC to carry out a National Ecosystem Assessment of Montserrat using its Earth Observation based mapping and Caribbean ecosystem expertise. Montserrat’s ecosystems provide an important source of income through the exploitation of its unique biodiversity to promote tourism as well as supporting the livelihoods of Montserrat’s population. Ecosystems provide multiple benefits such as the provision of fresh water, maintaining soil fertility and a variety of food resources.

During our 9 day visit to the island we participated in a workshop to scope the project and introduce the use of Earth observation and GIS to interested parties, including those from the Montserrat Government and Montserrat National Trust, who will provide all Montserrat-based field work and support.

Our ongoing work will focus on a number of tasks:

  • The generation of a complete terrestrial [GB1] habitat map for Montserrat. The preliminary fieldwork for this was carried out during our November visit.
  • Undertake a comparison of outputs of existing and in development habitat maps, spatial metrics and other supporting environmental data and produce a draft list of the most suitable datasets that are required for the project.
  • Produce a set of Earth Observation based spatial metrics for ecosystem priorities and natural capital accounting.
  • Provide recommendations for a future monitoring and reporting system based on Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2

Work is due for completion by the end of March 2018.