September 18th, 2015

The completion of the Life+ Cap DOM programme!

After five years of work, the Life+ Cap DOM programme, supported by the European Commission and…
August 31st, 2015

[Video] The STOC in French Guiana

Since 2012, GEPOG has been running a STOC (point count) survey in French Guiana, along with the…
August 25th, 2015

[Video] SEOR: a look back over the five years of the programme

A few weeks before the end of the Life+ Cap DOM programme, François-Xavier Couzi, Director of…


The Island of Birds

Population : 397,730 inhabitants
Area : 1,100 km²
Official regional languages : 1
Highest point : Mount Pelée (1,397m)
Environments : tropical mountain rainforest, dry forest, savannas, mangrove swamps, cliffs and inlets, islets

Known as the Island of Flowers or earlier as the Island of Amazons, Martinique’s landscape was shaped by volcanism. Located in the center of the Caribbean island chain, it is the largest of the Lesser Antilles, which also includes Guadeloupe and Saint Lucia. With a surface area of 1,100 km², it extends 73 km from the northwest to the southeast and is 39 km wide. Bathed by the Caribbean sea in the west and by the Atlantic ocean in the east, it’s mild tropical maritime climate makes it a popular tourist destination, in spite of periods of violent cyclones.

Bridled Tern, Martinique, G. Tayalay

High-altitude rainforests hosting exceptional biodiversity are found in the mountainous, volcanic north of Martinique. Martinique has the richest tree diversity in the Lesser Antilles with 396 species, of which 20% are endemic. Biodiversity is three times higher there than in continental France, for a territory 500 times smaller! 12 species are in critical danger of extinction globally and 56 are in critical danger of extinction locally. Urbanization, the environmental impacts of intensive agricultural and tourism activities and invasive introduced species (mongooses, rats, the African giant snail) are the main factors contributing to the decline of biodiversity in Martinique. Its situation as an island and the endemism of its species make them even more vulnerable to extinction.

The southern part of the island, which is fairly flat and sunny, is covered with dry forests which have been more or less deteriorated by livestock raising and deforestation, and has various types of environments, including savannas. Rocky and sandy coasts and mangrove swamps as well as 48 islets, where the rare roseate tern nests, round out the mosaic of habitats.

With a dozen species of reptiles and mammals, the island is above all rich in avifauna, which inspired the comment by the naturalist Jean-Raphaël Grosdésormeaux (2008) that Martinique deserved to be called the Island of Birds as much as the Island of Flowers ! 194 bird species, of which 61 are sedentary and 133 migratory, have been identified. Among the sedentary species, only 35 are considered common and 3% are endemic. The latter include the Martinique oriole Icterus borana, the White-breasted thrasher Ramphocynclus brachyrus or the grey trembler Cinclocerthia gutturalis.
Three areas of the island are particularly rich in avifauna. Mount Pelée with its dense rainforests, the point of Sainte-Anne, with its contrasting habitats (villages, savannas, crops, forest cover, ponds, mudflats, rocky cliffs) ; and finally the Caravelle peninsula, which features savannas and forest cover and is lined with bays, coves and cliffs. It is home to the island’s last remaining populations of white-breasted thrashers.

A biodiversity hotspot, one of the world’s endemic areas for avifauna (BirdLife International), Martinique boasts a rich faunistic and floristic diversity. Its conservation is a challenge, due to the island’s small surface area, its isolation and its population of almost 400,000 inhabitants. Public institutions, nonprofit organizations and local authorities are working actively to extend the existing network of protected areas, which is already considerable.

In terms of legally protected areas, Martinique has a regional national park representing 57.7% of its territory (63,521 ha), two nature reserves (393 ha), 17 biotopes protected by prefectural decree (250 ha), 23 Coastal Conservatory sites (1,917 ha) and two marine protected areas currently being designated. 50 terrestrial and 4 marine ZNIEFFs (Natural Area of Ecological, Floristic and Faunistic Interest) have also been identified. The Regional Guidelines for the Management of Wildlife and its Habitats (ORGFH) coordinated by the National Hunting and Wildlife Agency (ONCFS) enable management priorities and conservation measures to be set.

Nonprofit organizations, such as SEPANMAR (Martinique Society for the Study, Protection and Development of Nature), Le Carouge and the Ornithological Society of Martinique are carrying out programs to monitor species and identify priority sites to preserve (identification of BirdLife International’s Important Bird Areas by SEPANMAR).

To know more :

Région Martinique

Parc naturel Régional de Martinique

DEAL Martinique

L’AOMA, Association ornithologique de La Martinique. Président : M. Georges Tayalay. tel :

La SEPANMAR, Société pour l’Etude, la Protection et l’Aménagement de la Nature à la Martinique.

Le Carouge. Contact : David Belfan

L’avifaune de Martinique avec Birds and Co

Keywords : Martinique