Grenadines Island Group (Grenada)
Grenada National Commission for UNESCO
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
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The Grenadines are a group of 35 small islands located between Grenada and St. Vincent in the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. They stretch over a distance of 90 km from the Island of London Bridge in the south to Bequia in the north. The natural boundary of the site approximates to the Grenadine Shelf, which is some 50m deep and falls off steeply in the Tobago Trough. Geographically, the area lies along the interface of the Caribbean and South American Tectonic plates. Several active undersea mounts (e.g. Kick’em Jenny) attest to the on-going movement of these plates.
The international boundary between Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines runs east to west across the bank between Petit Martinique and Petit St. Vincent. Nonetheless, the links among all the Grenadine Islands on both sides of the boundary are historically strong and continue to be active. Fishing, informal trade, tourism and island social life proceed with little attention to the boundary. In both countries ‘mainlanders’ concede that the connections among the Grenadine islands are in most cases stronger than those with the main island.
Efforts by the two countries to conserve coral reef biodiversity can be seen as contributing to reef biodiversity conservation at the regional level.
Name(s) of the component part(s)
1.Petit Martinique 12°31’08”N 61°23’05”W
2. Petite Tobago 12°30’30”N 61°24’06”W
3. Carriacou 12°28’38”N 61°26’50”W
4. Saline Island 12°25’50”N 61°28’20”W
5. Frigate Island 12°24’50”N 61°28’39”W
6. Large Island 12°24’23”N 61°29’20”W
7. Diamond Island 12°19’41”N 61°34’59”W
8. Les Tantes 12°18’58”N 61°33’11”W
9. Ronde Island 12°18’18”N 61°34’07”W
10. Caille Island 12°17’13”N 61°34’56”W
11. London Bridge 12°15’25”N 61°35’34”W
Description of the component part(s)
In the Grenadines there are nine (9) islands with permanent settlements. The largest islands – Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Union I., Petit Martinique and Carriacou, have towns and communities with public (schools, clinics, utilities) and private supporting infrastructure. Others are resort islands- Palm I, Petit St. Vincent. Most others are visited by yachters and fishers.
The islands of the Grenadines range from rocky volcanic headlands to tiny cays that barely rise above sea level. The largest islands are Carriacou in Grenada (3400 ha) and Bequia in St. Vincent (1800 ha). Although many of the islands are inhabited and used for agriculture and the surrounding waters for commercial fishing, much of the area still exists in a relatively undisturbed condition.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The entire Grenadines area is noted for its beautiful scenery, spectacular beaches and diverse marine habitats that include coral reefs, mangroves and seabird colonies. The area supports the most extensive coral reefs and related habitats in the Windward Islands (the Grenadines Bank constitutes approximately 11% of the coral reef area of theLesser Antilles). All islands have a variety of surrounding fringing, patch and barrier reefs, and there are numerous offshore reef shoals on the bank. There are reef-related seagrass and lagoon habitats and areas of extensive mangrove forests. Sea turtles nest in the area (particularly in Carriacou andUnionIsland) and several species of whales have been sighted. All these values add up to present a harmonious blend of natural features within a “cultural seascape” of high scenic value.
Seascapes: The varied and beautiful seascapes of the Grenadines formed by the islands, rocks and surrounding coral reef habitats are a key feature of the area and a main attraction for visitors.
Marine Habitat and Biodiversity: The diverse marine habitats associated with coral reefs are home to rich marine biodiversity which is the basis of much of the tourism activity (SCUBA, snorkeling, whale watching). The islands and the surrounding marine environment are considered as an integrated terrestrial and marine ecosystem. Although no one single natural feature dominates, there are a large collection of values that have global significant (i.e. Tobago Cays) which occur from remnant patches of tropical dry forest, mangroves, sea turtle (4 species) nesting beaches, seabird nesting colonies, coral reefs, marine mammals (including whales) and volcanic features.
Terrestrial Heritage: The islands are believed to be home to a variety of endemic terrestrial species, e.g. the recent discovery of a new species of lizard on Union I. Twenty-six bird species that are regionally threatened are found in the islands.
Geology: The area is an active subduction zone with undersea volcanoes and seismic activity. Geologically, the Grenadines are special because of their volcanic origin. This volcanism is still present in phenomenon such as Kick’em Jenny, which is an active submarine volcano located north of mainlandGrenada. There is also another less active submarine named Kick’em Jack in the area. These volcanoes are important as their explosion may result in the creation of new land masses, and new marine life has been found by Northern Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) in their vicinity.
Cultural Heritage: There is a diversity of cultural heritage that can be considered
- Indigenous People’s culture and history such as the site where the Black Caribs were exiled before shipment toCentral America. With respect to Colonial history, there is a unique history linked with the Garifuna people - the Caribs who were taken toBritish Hondurasafter their defeat by the French and the British.
- Big Drum Nation Dancing – African traditions have been well preserved in Carriacou from the days of slavery.
- BoatBuildingand sailing – the Grenadines are renowned for their indigenous boatbuilding skills and seafaring traditions. There is also the rich historical aspect of shipwrecks in the area. Some reports noted thatGrenadaalone has 163 wrecks, one of these being a slave ship wreck off of Isle de Ronde. The Grenadines have been touted as some of the best sailing grounds in the world. Historically, Carriacou was once described as the healthiest place in the Caribbean to live, as historically people sailing fromEuropewere brought to Carriacou to acclimatize before making their way to their final destinations. Carriacou had a supply of fresh water and its beaches were easy locations to land boats.
- Pre-Columbian History – There are many pre-Columbian settlement sites throughout the islands that have the potential for heritage tourism and to provide opportunities for research. The Pre-Columbian history of theGrenadinesis very rich. This history has been well documented by Dr. Kirby, with his research on petroglyphs in the region producing linkages to South American petroglyphs. This Amerindian history is still present in the names of theGrenadines(Bequia – land of clouds; Carriacou – land of reefs). Many indigenous artifacts have been found in the region.
- Rites of Passage (Weddings,TombstoneFeast, Wakes) – Many rituals and rites have been preserved in theGrenadines
- CaribbeanVernacular Architecture
- Fortifications – A system of colonial fortifications exists throughout the islands
- Festivals (Maroon, Masquerade, Carnival, Shakespeare Mas)
- Music and Dance (Quadrille, Parang, String Band)
(iii) Indigenous People’s culture and history: Places of Memory for Garifuna (Carib) people. The unique historical linked between the Garifuna of Belize and the Islands in the Grenadines where they were exiled before shipment to Central America after their defeat by the French and the British. Well preserved African traditions such as “big drum” dancing and maroon festivals.
(iv) The Grenadines are renowned indigenous Whaling, boat building and sailing. Colonialfortifications exist throughout the region. The Grenadines has a rich historical aspect of shipwrecks dotted all over the region.
(v) The Pre-Columbian history of the Grenadines is very rich: Many indigenous artifacts and pre-Columbian settlement sites have been found in the region. Petroglyphs in the region have been linked to South American petroglyphs. This Amerindian history is still present in the names of the Grenadines (Bequia – land of clouds; Carriacou – land of reefs).
(viii) It has diverse marine habitats including the most extensive area of coral reefs in the south-eastern Caribbean and contains two active under water volcanoes. Continuous, large scale, combination of islands, rocks, reefs and habitat to create a special seascape and the region is known as one of the most popular sailing regions in the world.
(x) Rich marine habitat and biodiversity: Endemic species (reptiles, amphibians, plants, etc), important habitat for migratory threatened bird species (mangroves, salt ponds and other places) and endangered turtles. The extensive coral reef biodiversity is popular for dolphins and whale watching, scuba diving and snorkeling. Some experts believe that the region contributes to the maintenance of biodiversity in the downstream Caribbean. These are examples of what may be revealed with further investigation.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The area is a mix of public and private land with marine area owned by two countries. A number of nature reserves and marine protected areas are scattered throughout the island chain. No overall trans-boundary management regime exists, but regional protected areas system plans have been prepared for both countries.
A trans-boundary Non-governmental Organization (NGO), Sustainable Grenadines Inc. (SusGren), exist in the Grenadines and its operations span the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and Grenada (GND). For the last nine years SusGren has done a wide range of costal and marine conservation work as well as research in the trans-boundary Grenadines. SusGren also has advanced work on pursuing the possibility of establishing a Grenadine Island World Heritage Site (WHS).
Comparison with other similar properties
Other major natural areas in the region with similar values are found in the Belize Barrier Reef WHS and the adjacent Si’an Kaan coast of the Yucatan, as well as the San Andreas archipelago of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the Bonaire reefs and the southern Cuban Coral Archipelago. Other similar, but likely less naturally significant sites in the region occur in the Virgin Islands and the Soufriere marine management area of St. Lucia. Comparative data on various natural values of these areas, however, have not yet been compiled and analysed, so a definitive statement on relative importance of the Grenadines cannot be given.