Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)

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Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 14:57
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Morne Trois Pitons National Park is a protected area on the Caribbean island of Dominica. Luxuriant natural tropical forest blends with scenic volcanic features centered on the volcano from which the park takes its name. The site hosts the richest biodiversity in the Lesser Antilles.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park

Morne Trois Pitons National Park is a protected area on Dominica, an island commonwealth in the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The Dominican government established this area as a National Park in July 1975, the first legally established in the country.

A rugged mountain range featuring steep volcanoes and deep canyons forms the natural spine of the volcanic island. The National Park is named after the island's highest mountain, Morne Trois Pitons, meaning "mountain of three peaks."

Morne Trois Pitons National Park, covering an area of 6,857 ha (16,944 acres), protects a scenically striking part of the mountain range in its central and southern highlands, centered on the 1,342 m (4,400 ft) volcano known as Morne Trois Pitons.

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1975, the National Park features precipitous mountain slopes and deeply incised valleys, in addition to 50 fumaroles, hot springs, three freshwater lakes, a 'boiling lake' and five volcanoes.

The World Heritage property boasts significant freshwater resources, including the headwaters of the streams and rivers in the island's southern half.

Features within the park include the Valley of Desolation, a region of boiling mud ponds and small geysers; the Boiling Lake, Titou Gorge, and Emerald Pool.

Flora and Fauna

The Morne Trois Pitons National Park is known for its rich, partially endemic flora and abundant fauna.

Most of the area of the National Park retains its natural habitat. There are several different vegetation zones:

  • tropical rainforest
  • secondary forest
  • deciduous forest
  • montane rainforest
  • dwarf forest

The large trees in the rainforest tower up to 30 and 40 m (100 and 130 ft) and have large buttress roots. The dominant tree is Amanoa caribaea, but Sloanea dengata, Sloanea caribaea, and Sloanea berteroana are also plentiful; Symphonia globulifera and Cecropia peltata have both massive buttresses and prop roots.

The trees are interspersed with tree ferns and are swathed in epiphytes, including orchids and bromeliads.

At higher altitudes, the trees become smaller, and there are mountain palms, ferns, and hibiscus, while near the summits, there is a dwarf forest with low, branching shrubs, mosses, and lichens.

In the Valley of Desolation, the sulfurous gases limit the vegetation, and there are Clusia mangle, grasses, and bromeliads.

Mammals in the park include agoutis, wild pigs, common opossums, numerous small rodents, and bats. In addition, the endemic Dominican anole Anolis oculatus can be found here, as well as numerous species of tree frogs.

Many birds are in the forest, but they are often heard rather than seen. There are four hummingbird species: the rufous-throated solitaire and two endemic parrots, the imperial amazon and the red-necked amazon.