A network of 18 Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) across 13 islands of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) archipelago has been identified on the basis of their globally threatened plant species, exceptional botanical richness and/or nationally threatened habitats. The process for identifying TIPAs uses a globally recognised methodology that identifies sites of international importance for their wild plant species diversity. The BVI network comprises TIPAs that are entire islands such as Great Tobago as well as pockets of important habitat on larger, more developed islands such as Mount Sage on Tortola. Part of an international effort to identify TIPAs across the globe, the BVI network is the first to be completed and fully documented. Other countries actively identifying TIPAs include Mozambique, Bolivia, Guinea, Uganda, Cameroon and New Guinea, Indonesia.
The BVI TIPAs network was identified by the British Virgin Islands TIPAs national team which is a technical committee comprising experts from the BVI’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, the National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Collectively this group has been researching the plants of BVI and their conservation for 20 years and have assembled a robust data set on the distribution of plants, their habitats and on the threats to their future survival. The four-day workshop was the third and final of a series of evaluation workshops that began in 2016. During this process five nationally threatened habitats were identified: Coastal Shrubland, Dry Salt Flats, Mangroves, Semi-deciduous Gallery Forest and Upland Evergreen Forest. The team also highlighted 36 plant species of national conservation importance, including 25 globally threatened plant species, such as Maytenus cymosa, one of the world’s most threatened tree species. A guide to the BVI TIPAs network is being produced and it will be released early 2019.