5. Description and History -
Located on the island of Saint Kitts, Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Brimstone Hill is very steep and located right on the Caribbean coast of the island, making it perfect for a strategic military location.
The British first used this hill to mount cannons in 1690 in order to retake Fort Charles from the French. When this attempt was strategic, the British decided to build another fort at the location. Its complete construction, carried out by slaves, took just over a century to finish. Having learned of its military value, the French invaded in 1782 and took control of the fort and of St. Kitts and Nevis islands. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, returned the islands to British rule. The British worked to strengthen the fort, never losing control again. The site was abandoned in 1853. Major restoration took place in the 1970’s and in 1985, Queen Elizabeth II named the hill as a National Park. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 because it provides a look at 17th and 18th Century British military architecture.
4. Tourism -
Today, many tourists on the island decide to visit the fortress. The site includes the Fort George Museum, Fort George Citadel, and Western and Eastern Places of Arms. Visitors are also able to visit the wall that the French crossed in 1782 when they took control of the island, called the Magazine Bastion. Other buildings that have not been restored include the Royal Engineers’ Quarters, the Artillery Officers’ Quarters, the Infantry Officer's’ Quarters, and the Orillon Bastion.
3. Uniqueness -
This site is particularly unique because it is considered to be the most well-preserved historical fortification in the Americas. It reflects the time of European colonial expansion, African slave labor, and the foundation of new Caribbean settlements. Additionally, the fortress remained unaltered after it was abandoned, meaning its design is a period original.
2. Nature, Sights, and Sounds -
Brimstone Hill itself is a natural wonder. Rising 800 feet above the sea on a steep slope, it was formed by volcanic rock. Limestone can be found on the middle and lower sections of the slope. The top of the hill looks out over forested mountains which host a number of wildlife. Vervet monkeys, Antillean crested hummingbirds, calico vines, and orchids are just a few of the species that can be found throughout the forests. Endemic to the region are the Saba Least gecko, the Island Least gecko, the Panther anole, and the Red-Bellied Racer snake.
1. Threats and Conservation -
The most significant environmental threats on the island include deforestation, erosion, and water pollution. Deforestation became common throughout St. Kitts in order to plant the large sugar plantations that were once its principal economic commodity. In 2005, the government decided to end sugar production which left a large number of people without jobs. This led to an increase in logging activity, further degrading forested lands. Without the trees, erosion has become a problem, particularly during heavy rainfall. The silt is washed away into the ocean where it causes more damage, affecting the coral reef habitat. In addition, the island has a problem with water pollution due to improper sewage disposal and visiting cruise ships. The government has adopted a National Environmental Action plan in response to these threats. It focuses on improving public education and training programs, obtaining updated technology, and creating environmental regulations for the private sector.