St. Martin

About the Island

The island of St. Martin is located near the top of the Lesser Antilles, just 8 km south of Anguilla. The northern portion of the island is a part of France, while the southern portion is a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands called Sint Maarten. The island has been shared by two nations – it is the smallest land mass in the world to be shared by two governments – for almost 350 years.

The island of St. Martin, photo courtesy of

St. Martin (Photo by

Protected Areas on the Island

There are two main protected areas on the French side of the island: the national Nature Reserve of St Martin (Reserve Naturelle, created in 1998) and an area owned by the Conservatoire du Littoral which embraces 14 pools and ponds (totally 200 ha and including Grand Etang Important Bird Area).

The Reserve Naturelle covers 154 ha of terrestrial habitat and includes beaches, mangrove forests, and saline ponds. It also embraces 2,796 ha of marine habitats, including those around Tintamarre Island, another Important Bird Area.

Threats to Conservation on the Island

The primary threat to biodiversity is development, most of which is associated with the tourism industry. Sewage and garbage disposal are a visible problem on the island, as are disturbances from watercraft, 4×4 vehicles, and other recreational activities.

Invasive and introduced species pose a serious threat to the reproductive success of St. Martin’s native birds, and game birds such as the Bridled Quail-dove are reduced through hunting.


Of the 164 species of birds recorded from St Martin, approximately 50 are Neotropical migrants. The most important habitats for the these birds are the saline ponds, mangroves, and secondary dry forest of the mountains.

Eight of the 38 Lesser Antilles Endemic Bird Area restricted-range birds occur in St Martin, none of which are endemic to the island. These are the Bridled Quail-dove, Purple-throated Carib, Green-throated Carib, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Caribbean Elaenia, Scaly-breasted Thrasher, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, and Lesser Antillean Bullfinch.


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