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Potential impact of invasive alien species on ecosystem services provided by a tropical forested ecosystem: a case study from Montserrat


Local stakeholders at the important but vulnerable Centre Hills on Montserrat consider that the continued presence of feral livestock (particularly goats and pigs) may lead to widespread replacement of the reserve’s native vegetation by invasive alien trees (Java plum and guava), and consequent negative impacts on native animal species. Since 2009, a hunting programme to control the feral livestock has been in operation. However long-term funding is not assured. Here, we estimate the effect of feral livestock control on ecosystem services provided by the forest to evaluate whether the biodiversity conservation rationale for continuation of the control programme is supported by an economic case. A new practical tool (Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment) was employed to measure and compare ecosystem service provision between two states of the reserve (i.e. presence and absence of feral livestock control) to estimate the net consequences of the hunting programme on ecosystem services provided by the forest. Based on this we estimate that cessation of feral livestock management would substantially reduce the net benefits provided by the site, including a 46 % reduction in nature-based tourism (from $419,000 to $228,000) and 36 % reduction in harvested wild meat (from $205,000 to $132,000). The overall net benefit generated from annual ecosystem service flows associated with livestock control in the reserve, minus the management cost, was $214,000 per year. We conclude that continued feral livestock control is important for maintaining the current level of ecosystem services provided by the reserve.

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We are grateful to Lloyd Aymer, James Boatswain, Calvin Fenton, Eudora Fergus (National Trust of Montserrat), Frank Hobbs (Department of Lands and Survey), James Glenford, Jervaine Greenaway, Giovanna Massei (Food and Environment research Agency), Lloyd Martin, Steffinella Meade (Montserrat Utilities Limited), Deloris Mullings, Philemon Murrain (National Trust of Montserrat), Melissa O’Garro (Department of Agriculture), Ishwar Persad (Department of Tourism), Alistair Homer (DOE), Sugoto Roy (Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratory) for providing KSHP with field supports. We are also grateful to the Royal Montserrat Police Force for the permission to entry into the exclusion zone. Donal McCarthy and Steffen Oppel kindly provided comments on a draft of the paper. This project was funded by Cambridge Conservation Initiative (research grant PFPA.GAAB), UNEP-WCMC, RSPB, Anglia Ruskin University and BirdLife International. TESSA is available at

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Correspondence to Kelvin S.-H. Peh.


Appendix 1: interview questions for tourists at the department hall of the airport on Montserrat

Interview date:

Number of people in the travel group:

  1. 1.

    Have you visited the Centre Hills during your stay in Montserrat?

    Yes—Please complete the rest of the questionnaire.

    No—End of the survey.

  2. 2.

    How many days will you spend away from home whilst on this trip?

    N.B. This should also include the days you spend elsewhere outside Montserrat, for example other Caribbean islands, if there are any.

    Answer: __________________

  3. 3.

    In total, how much money will you spend during your whole stay in this trip?

    (per person, or for the whole group)

    N.B. A) This should include your spend on travel (air, ferry, etc.), accommodation, food, local transport, tour guide, etc.

    B) This should include your spend elsewhere outside Montserrat, for example other Caribbean islands, if there are any.

    Answer: __________________ (per person/for the whole group*)

    * delete where appropriate

  4. 4.

    How many days have you spent at the Centre Hills during your trip?

    Answer: __________________

  5. 5.

    Would you come to the Centre Hills for these activities if the Central Hills remain forested, but the unique animals of Montserrat (e.g., Montserrat Oriole) have disappeared?

    Answer: Yes/No*

    * delete where appropriate.

Appendix 2: interview questions for hunters on Montserrat

Interview date:

  1. 1.

    How much meat (in terms of lbs)—for your own use and sale - did you collect from the Centre Hills in the past six months?

    (NB. Do not include the meat collected from DOE hunting trips)

    Answer: ______

  2. 2.

    What percentage of the meat is from pig, goat, sheep and cattle?

    Pig _____  %

    Goat _____  %

    Sheep _____  %

    Cattle _____  %

  3. 3.

    Would your answer to Q1 change if there is no additional income from DOE hunting trips? If yes, what is the estimated amount of meat you would have collected for the past six months? **

    Answer: ______

    ** Question for the Department of Environment hunters only.

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Peh, K.SH., Balmford, A., Birch, J.C. et al. Potential impact of invasive alien species on ecosystem services provided by a tropical forested ecosystem: a case study from Montserrat. Biol Invasions 17, 461–475 (2015).

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  • Carbon
  • Feral livestock
  • Guava
  • Harvested wild goods
  • Java plum
  • Nature-based tourism
  • Non-native