Frigate Island – A National Trust Treasure Being Restored

The SVGEF awarded SusGren $27,555.00 EC dollars to fund two major activities – a biodiversity study and a clean-up of Frigate Island. 

Frigate Island is located on the southwest tip of Union Island, it was initially separated by water but later joined by a meandering man-made causeway during the Ashton Marina Project in 1994. The Island is a Wildlife Reserve (under the Wildlife Act) and a National Trust property; it was also declared an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International, and it falls under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) category IV protection. However, over the years the area has been plagued with garbage which fostered invasive species such as rats that can be detrimental to birds and other wildlife whose habitats are disturbed. 

A Terrestrial Flora and Fauna Study was carried out in April 2021, by Ms. Lystra Culzac, Consultant, and Mr. Glenroy Gaymes, a Forestry Officer from the Forestry Division in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. 

In summary, findings revealed that there are five major vegetation types recorded on Frigate Island. These include Littoral Woodland, Rock Pavement, Mangrove, and Coastal Grassland mixed with Coastal Strand. A total of fifty-eight plant species were also recorded representing thirty-two different families. Nineteen bird species were recorded, two of which are endemic to the West Indies. These included seabirds, land birds, and wetland species. During the study, the Tropical Mockingbird (Mimus gilvus) was the most observed species, and one Barn Owl was spotted during night assessment. There were seven other vertebrates recorded one of which was the Grenada Bank Tree Boa that was spotted during the beach clean-up activity.

The Beach Clean-up activity was done after the terrestrial Flora and Fauna study to not disturb the species prior. A local contractor along with an eight-member team was hired to carry out the activity. The businesses in and around the Ashton Lagoon were notified of the clean-up efforts and were thrilled about the initiative undertaken by SusGren and offered their assistance to help. The clean-up took place between April 12th – April 23rd, 2021. The workers cleared the trail leading to Frigate Island and pruned and piled the trash found along the existing paths leading to the island. A total of 60 bags of trash was collected. Plastics, glass, bottle caps, and sunscreen bottles were some of the most common items collected as well as tyres, ropes, foams, PVC materials, and old shoes.  Since the clean-up persons are now frequenting the area for kite surfing and picnicking. It is good to see Frigate Island getting back to what it once used to be for the people of Union Island and visiting sailors alike!