MTQ | Sep 19, 2023

Caribbean volcano is new UNESCO heritage site

/ Our Today

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(Photo: Twitter @VisitMartinique)

Durrant Pate/ Contributor

The Mont Pelee volcano in Martinique is now the newest UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Caribbean.

Mont Pelee, located in northern Martinique, erupted in 1902 and killed 28,000 people in what was at the time the “Paris of the Caribbean”. One hundred and twenty-one years after its explosion, the volcano is still active and remains under permanent surveillance.

It is set at the northern tip of the island, towering over the city of Saint Pierre. Also added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site global list is the Pitons Mountains of Northern Martinique. Taken together, Mont Pelee and the pitons of northern Martinique represent 13,980 hectares, or 12 per cent of Martinique’s territory.

Historic moment for Martinique

“This is a historic moment for Martinique but beyond that for the Caribbean and the whole world…Inscription on the World Heritage List is a powerful and valuable tool for conservation, but it is also an expression of an ecological identity,” declared Serge Letchimy, President of the executive council of Martiniques.

The listing “could increase the number of visitors by 30 to 40 per cent” on the island, Martinique Natural Park said in response to the news of the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. According to the park, this World Heritage inscription “could increase the number of visitors by 30 to 40 per cent”.

In a statement on the designation, the Martinique Tourism Authority wrote: “We are excited to celebrate the recognition of the global significance of the land, and we take great pride in our magnificent volcanic island and express our sincerest gratitude to all of the people who continually contribute to its protection.”

Beyond the historical significance of the mountain, the volcano and its forests are home to globally threatened species like the Martinique Volcano Frog, the Lacépède’s Ground Snake and the indigenous Martinique Oriole, among others. With this inscription, Martinique acquires its third UNESCO label in two years, after that of biosphere reserve awarded for “good practices in safeguarding intangible heritage” and its round Yole, a traditional boat.


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