MONTSERRAT VOLUNTEER CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
Nicknamed the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, Montserrat is home to lush green vegetation and sapphire blue waters. Stunning scenery houses a wealth of unique wildlife, with many fascinating species found nowhere else in the world. However, following a series of volcanic eruptions on the island which began in 1995, Montserrat’s tropical forests and coral reefs have come under increasing pressure and now work needs to be done to help preserve these extraordinary ecosystems for the future.
Coral Cay Conservation is delivering an exciting “ridge to reef” project on Montserrat, working in partnership with the Government of Montserrat. Now in its final year the project has a holistic approach, with scientific survey programmes to collect data from both tropical forests and coral reefs, accompanied by community education programmes and local capacity building.
By supporting the development of sustainable management plans the project will ensure the long-term future of Montserrat’s natural resources. Providing training programmes for local stakeholders in essential conservation skills will develop in-county capacity to enact these plans and environmental education programmes will develop a sense of ownership and pride within local communities. The project also seeks to enhance capacity for eco-tourism on the island and to promote Montserrat as a destination for nature lovers.
VOLUNTEERS: HOW WILL YOU HELP?
As a volunteer, you can choose to join either the marine or terrestrial project, or even take part in both. All volunteers get to be involved in survey work specific to their project, as well as having a chance to join our staff team in delivering community education programmes.
If you choose to join the project as a terrestrial volunteer you will learn all about Montserrat’s fascinating tropical forest environments and the many rare and endemic species that they are home to. You will trek into the lush vegetation each day (and sometimes at night!) to conduct a range of surveys including bird walks, reptile and amphibian transects, and invasive plant species monitoring. The data you collect will be used to inform the management of the Centre Hills, Montserrat’s largest remaining forested area.
Marine volunteers will assist with our coral reef surveys. You will receive all the training you need to become a fully competent PADI diver and to learn to identify the marine species that can be found in Montserrat’s waters. The data collected by marine volunteers will be the first comprehensive survey of Montserrat’s marine resources since the volcanic eruptions in the mid-1990s and will be used to help develop a Locally Managed Marine Area.
THE PROJECT SITE
Coral Cay's Montserrat Field Base is located at the "Taj Mahal" in Old Towne. Pre-volcano this spacious villa was frequented by celebrities recording at the nearby Air Studios. Guests included Mark Knopfler, Sting and Elton John.
The Taj overlooks the Belham river which is one of the best birding spots on the island. The site can accommodate 40 people and has classrooms and a dive training pool on-site. Accommodation is a mixture of double beds, twin rooms and dormitories. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms. Our marine programme’s boat is moored a short five minute walk away in Old Road Bay.
VIDEO OF EXPEDITION LIFE ON MONTSERRAT
COSTS AND DATES
Volunteers are welcome to stay for longer than 10 weeks, please contact us to discuss your options. RSPB members can get a 10% discount on the above prices however membership must be mentioned in the message section at the time of booking (please include membership No).
Please note that we will be completing our work in Montserrat in 2017, with the project site closing to volunteers at the end of August 2017.
Before booking please consider the following points:
1: Coral Cay’s Montserrat project site will be closed from 18th December until March each year.
2: Unfortunately, due to high swell it is not possible for us to include marine project start dates from November to mid March each year.
3: Dive trainees joining a Coral Cay expedition for a two week period may not complete their skills development programme and may not get the opportunity to carry out any marine surveys.