Matura NP ESA vegetation survey

Study of the vegetation and plant communities of Matura National Park through plot inventories. Survey sites were chosen through stratified sampling using GIS layers to account for variability caused by topography, climate, geology, altitude, slope exposure and human disturbance.

Twenty-five (254) nested 50 m x 50 m permanent sample plots were established in Matura National Park, along a roughly N-S transect line (trail) connecting the two main access routes into the park (from Grande Rivière to Salybia). This trail follows geographical ridges and is set up as a permanent trail for future monitoring.

Sample plots were positioned in sets of three plots preferably on W-facing slopes: one plot on the ridge, one in the middle slope, and one at the base of the slope. Plots are homogeneous in vegetation, excluding disturbances, and away from trails and streams.

All trees and lianas with diameter 10 cm or above at breast height were tagged, inventoried and collected. Within a central 12 x 50 m subplot all trees and lianas with diameter 2.5 – 10 cm were equally surveyed and tagged. Ground flora and epiphytes are recorded in five 2m x 2m quadrats positioned along the centre line.
Herbarium specimens were collected for all recorded plants, and identified at the National Herbarium of Trinidad.

The vegetation research shows that the area has important biodiversity values. Over 200 species of trees and lianas were recorded so far for Matura National Park. This includes one species never recorded before in Trinidad. Five distinct plant communities were recognized through the survey. The plant community found on the higher ridges of the northern Range, which corresponds with montane forest vegetation, has the highest plant diversity. Seven endemic trees and one endemic tree fern were found to occur in the Matura National Park ESA and therefore protected within MNP.