Sage Mountain National Park (British Virgin Islands)

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Sage Mountain National Park (British Virgin Islands)

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 15:08
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Sage Mountain National Park is a protected area located on the island of Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Located to the southwest of the capital, Road Town, the National Park is named after the highest peak in all of the Virgin Islands.

Sage Mountain National Park

Sage Mountain National Park, or Mount Sage National Park, is a protected area located on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, a group of islands that form part of the archipelago of the Virgin Islands located in the Caribbean Sea. It is named after the highest peak in all of the Virgin Islands, which rises to a height of 523 m (1,716 ft).

The National Park, which includes the mountain range, extends over 39 ha (96 acres) and is located southwest of the British Virgin Islands capital, Road Town.

Through a generous donation from Laurance Rockefeller, an American philanthropist and conservationist, the land at Sage Mountain was purchased from farmers and given to the BVI Government as a national park.

The farmland was reforested with white cedar (Tabebuia heterophylla), West Indian and Honduran mahogany trees (Swietenia mahogoni and Swietania macrophylla), which have thrived along with other naturally regenerated secondary vegetation.

The tall, volcanic mountain range acts like a natural barrier, blocking dry winds and intense sunshine. Rains occur from the moist trade winds generated in Tortola's mountains and fall mostly on the park's northern side, supporting a few forest species, while the southern part of the park reflects old pastures of dry forests.

Although rainfall is low in these islands, the old-growth forest on the northwestern side of the National Park is typical of Caribbean rainforests.

A small area of 11.9 ha (29.5 acres), generally of rocky terrain, retains the original forest species as they could not be cleared for agriculture. The old-growth forest on Sage Mountain is noted to be "untouched since the time of Columbus."

Typical of rain forests, flora includes the "stinking fish" or bullet wood (Mimusops elengi), Caribbean and Honduras mahogany trees (Swietenia mahogoni, and S. macrophylla).

Other flora found within the park are guavaberry, large patches of moss, epiphytes or air plants, elephant ear vine (philodendron), fig tree, white "cedar" (not actually a cedar but a flowering tree, Tabebuia heterophylla), a West Indian species of tree fern, Manilkara, and mountain guava (Psidium amplexicaule).

Groves of mammee apple (Mammea americana) and heliconia trees are also recorded along the entrance path of the park. Some ferns, flowers, and vines that grow in the park are not found elsewhere in Tortola.

Fauna in the park includes hermit crab (Calliactis), and avifauna, including American kestrel, red-tailed hawk, Caribbean martin, mountain dove, and pearly-eyed thrasher.