Morne Trois Pitons National Park
Rainforests – Morne Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica
Between the 1st and 6th of December 1997, the World Heritage Committee listed 46 new sites as Heritage Sites. Amongst sites like the Pyrenees in France/Spain, the Historic Centre of Tallinn in Estonia, Maritime Greenwich in the United Kingdom, the Heard and McDonald Islands in Australia and the Ancient City of Ping Yao in China, the Morne Trois Pitons National Park of Dominica was designated a World Heritage Site.
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The Morne Trois Pitons National Park was chosen based in natural criteria because of the park’s beauty, diverse flora and endemic species, rivers, waterfalls volcanoes and constant geo-morphological processes. As a rainforest that extends into largest areas of Dominica’s interior, Morne Trois Pitons National Park is appreciated for the fresh water lakes, fumaroles totaling to just over 50, hot springs, valleys, the wealthiest biodiversity in the Lesser Antilles and precipitous slopes within its rainforests. The park got its name from The Morne Trois Pitons, or Mountain with Three Peaks, which is a towering mountain whose name very much speaks for itself. The mountain reaches an altitude of 1,342 meters, and is one of the five volcanoes/mountains found in this rainforest, one of which is the Morne Diablotin – the highest mountain in Dominica. This rainforest in Dominica is also home to the second largest boiling lake in the world, complemented with the Valley of Desolation where fumaroles and hot springs are found.
Morne Trois Pitons rainforest is 6,875 hectares in size and is situated in the south-central of Dominica. The rainforest has a climate that is humid tropical and rainfall measures up to 7m annually. Dominica’s location tends to pose the threat of tropical hurricanes and storms, as the island is in the hurricane belt of the islands. Within the park is a variety of rainforest forms such as montane rainforest, elfin forest, secondary rain forest, montane thicket, mature rainforest and semi-evergreen forest. Over 5,000 species of vascular plants exist in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, including about 21 endemic species. To expound, the rainforest in Dominica is home to about 135 different species of birds, 30 decapod crustaceans, 12 bat species and 4 distinct species of reptiles.
Though similar rainforests exist in nearby islands like St. Lucia, Guadeloupe and Martinique and Montserrat, Morne Trois Pitons National Park differs as the largest rainforest in terms of forest cover, has the most diverse volcanic features and is the most unaltered, thereby meriting UNESCO’s category II ranking. Rainforests in Dominica, is therefore compared to other rainforests and national parks, save Cuba where the Alexander von Humboldt National Park is larger and more varied in plant and animal species.
In terms of efforts and success in preservation, other rainforests and sites with which Dominica rainforests are comparable include Garajonay (Canary Islands), Hawaii Volcanoes National Parh (Hawaii), Vallee de Mai (Seychelles) amd Yukushima (Japan). According to UNESCO’s report, within the Caribbean region, the Northern Forest Reserve on the very same island of Dominica is the only other rival national park or site to Morne Trois Pitons National Park.