Rebirth of Montserrat Part 4

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Montserrat Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

The island of Montserrat in the Eastern Caribbean, about the same size as the county of San Francisco, is in the midst of rebirthing itself—an entirely brand new town, is in the initial stages of rising from the earth.

How the deftly designed, beachside new town, on the island’s north shore, came about, is the direct result of the dramatic and devastating volcanic eruption of the Soufrière Hills in 1995. Repeated pyroclastic flows eventually buried the historic capital town of Plymouth under mountains of ash in 1997. The entire south end was abandoned and Islanders relocated to the northern half of the island that is protected from future eruptions by the ancient Center Hills mountain chain.

The Montserrat Development Corporation has created a brilliant master plan to ensure that the Phoenix like rebirth of Montserrat incorporates ecologically sensitive, environmentally sustainable concepts in all aspects of its architectural master plan—but just as important, or maybe more so, is its parallel quest to ensure the island’s unspoiled, tropical paradise remains as an essential ingredient—an irreplaceable, delicate touchstone. The Montserratians government intimately understands that the essence of the island’s allure is its unspoiled tropical rainforests, its alluring black sand beaches, some stretching for a mile or more, and its azure waters teaming with coral reefs and marine life. Coral Cays, an international conservation organization has been retained and has been working intensely for more than a year, doing exhaustive terrestrial and maritime environmental surveys. They are developing sustainable management plans, but most importantly Coral Cay is teaching and empowering the island’s student population to become stewards and ambassadors of their incredibly pristine and yet fragile ecological wonderland—that is and will remain as essential draws for vacationing hikers, birders, scuba divers and those who just love basking in an unspoiled rainforest paradise. We’ll visit Coral Cay’s headquarters for a chat with Field Base Manager, Kenny McDonald, and Sean Daniel, Project Scientist.

Afterwards we’ll trek up to the Montserrat Volcanic Observatory and meet with research scientist and volcanologist, Dr. Adam Stinson. And then David Crichton with Montserrat Development Corporation shares the back-story on the Soufrière Hills Volcano… and takes is on a walk through the ash covered abandoned town of Plymouth. At the moment, plans are being finalized to offer regularly scheduled hikes through Montserrat’s Modern Day Pompeii.

Listen to the interview on the Lowell Thomas Award winning travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a weekly-featured podcast on NPR.ORG Check out this episode!