Main Ridge is the primary mountainous spine of the island of Tobago in the southern Caribbean. The Main Ridge Forest Reserve, which encompasses about 10,000 acres of tropical rainforest, is one of the oldest protected areas in the world.
Main Ridge Forest Reserve
Main Ridge is the primary mountainous spine of the island of Tobago, the smaller and more northern of the two main islands that make up the southern Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago.
It is a chain of hills that runs 29 km (18 mi) from southwest to northeast between the Caribbean Sea and the Southern Tobago fault system and reaches a maximum height of 572 m (1,877 ft).
The Main Ridge Forest Reserve, established on April 13, 1776, one of the oldest protected areas in the world, is on record as the "oldest legally protected forest reserve in the Western Hemisphere established for a conservation purpose."
The Forest Reserve encompasses 3,958 ha (9,780 acres) of tropical rainforest. This lower montane forest is an important habitat for native plants and animals, including several species endemic to Tobago. Therefore, it is vital to protect native biodiversity, particularly endemic plant species.
The reserve provides critical habitat for two endemic amphibians, Pristimantis turpinorum (Turpin's frog) and Mannophryne olmonae (Bloody Bay tree frog), which are endemic to northeastern Tobago, as well as for the coral snake mimic Erythrolamprus pseudoreginae and the ocellated gecko Sphaerodactylus argus.
The Main Ridge Forest Reserve is home to many flora and fauna. The rainforest is estimated to provide habitat for 12 - 16 species of mammals, 24 nonvenomous snakes, 16 lizards, and 210 species of birds.
Main Ridge is also home to one of the country's national birds, the Rufous-vented Chachalaca or Cocorico (Ortalis ruficauda).
The white-tailed sabrewing (Campylopterus ensipennis), a large hummingbird, is endemic to northeastern Venezuela and the Main Ridge. After Hurricane Flora in 1963, it was considered extirpated from Tobago but rediscovered in 1974.
Plant species endemic to Tobago recorded in the Main Ridge include Odontonema brevipes, Duguetia tobagensis, Phyllanthus acacioides, Besleria seitzii, Cybianthus pittieri, Pilea tobagensis, and Justicia tobagensis.
The Trinidad and Tobago government submitted the Main Ridge Forest Reserve as a tentative listing for a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.