Public asked to wade in on conservation sites

| 02/08/2016 | 15 Comments
Cayman News Service

Ghost orchid in the Ironwood Forest in George Town

(CNS): The National Conservation Council is asking the public to make their suggestions and proposals for suitable sites in the Cayman Islands that could be protected under the National Conservation Law. With only around five percent of land in Cayman having any protection at all, local conservation experts are looking for areas which are predominately natural habitat and home to important, rare and unique species.

Nominations for Protected Areas from the public can be submitted to the NCC from now until the end of October, at which time the members will assess all the suggestions to see which best meet the criteria established in the law, which calls for protecting habitat to conserve, maintain and restore habitats critical to the survival and recovery of species that are endangered, threatened, endemic or migratory species or of special concern.

Land can be protected, among other things, to conserve, maintain and restore examples of unique ecological systems to maintain biological and genetic diversity or restore productivity of ecological systems and natural resources that provide economic or social benefits or are important to maintaining clean air and water.

With so little protection for Cayman’s dwindling natural land resources, there is plenty to choose from, such as dry-forests, mangroves, beaches and ponds. The remaining rain forest on the south-east edge of George Town is one of the last places on Grand Cayman where the endemic and critically endangered ghost orchid can still be found, as well as the unique bromeliad Old George, and it is an example of the sort of site that conservationist will be keen to see protected.

But with no protections for any of Cayman’s national natural terrestrial symbols, such as the parrot, the silver thatch tree and the banana orchid, the NCC will be considering habitat that is home to these important natural icons as well.

Across East End and North Side there are numerous isolated sites that are now the only place where certain endemic, indigenous or native species of flowers and traditional medical herbs and plants can still be found, which are also in need of protection. Other important areas that are likely to feature on the suggestions list include some of the wetlands that are not just home to local birds but also provide important sites for migratory birds.

But any land that is in private hands will not be purchased without the agreement of the land owners. Once an area is nominated, owners will be notified and asked if they want to sell their land to the government. If they don’t, they will be asked about a possible lease agreement to place a protection on the land. If the private owners are not interested in either option, then the NCC will look elsewhere.

The goal, however, is to begin protecting local land that is biologically diverse and either ecologically, scientifically or culturally important and feasible to protect.

While the first areas to be protected are expected to be marine, the move to begin protecting land is long overdue and despite the incredible bio-diversity of the natural landscape, over-development has taken a massive toll on the environment. Without lawful protection, saving some of Cayman’s flora and fauna from extinction may prove increasingly difficult.

Visit the Department of Environment website to find out how to nominate land for protections.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (15)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I nominate the LA, very rare species there that need protecting. The “Selfserving bloater fish” dominates the Cayman world by feeding at the trough for incredibly long periods of time whilst doing absolutely nothing else, except breeding occasionally.

  2. The Antibot says:

    I nominate the George Town harbour.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As much as I would like to wade in, I am told that wading on coral would damage it. So no wading in. None at all. I am conserving with absolutely no wading in.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I hope the persons on here making recommendations for land to be preserved are in fact recommending their own land and not other persons land while they extract the maximum economic benefit from their own land.

    • Anonymous says:

      I want to recommend your land, because you are the sort of odious slime ball that the world would be better without. And I am being nice in what I think of you.

    • Anonymous says:

      What you could be hoping for is the salvation of these islands

    • Anonymous says:

      When someone buys land and expressly says they are buying it to preserve it for nature, or tells people that that is what they are going to do with it, I see little harm in the government ensuring it is being used for that purpose (unless of course that was never the intention and….)

  5. Tree Hugga says:

    I nominate the vacant lot next to my house.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This will most likely fall on deaf ears but…

    I would like to see the mangroves in the little corner of South Sound/Red Bay area (behind where Dirty Reid’s used to be) protected. It is absolutely VITAL to protect areas like this for fish and shark nurseries.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am pleased to see the NCC seeking public opinion and not making decisions on its own, on a matter that affects our future.

    I would like to nominate an area in Barkers (Barcus) area, stretching from the boundaries of Pappagallo going East to the very tip of Barkers (known as “The Head of Barcus”) and stretching south to the Shores Development, and the entire land mass in that area including the beachfront, never to be developed.

    Unless already owned by a private developer, the land including and going south of Surley Garvin’s to the next owner’s property line.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I nominate the entire district of North Side.

  9. Bobby Smith says:

    Ezzard….come on you must have a few spots in mind like by the barn in North Side to conserve a spot where all the potential good North Side worker’s hang out…

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, his ‘poor Caymanian boys’ and his ‘local fishermen’, otherwise known to the rest of NS as drug dealers, junkies, drunks, marine park poachers, crap drivers, burglars, home invaders, rip off merchants and general idiots. Oh yes, his voters.
      I agree, they should be preserved, in concrete! Where do we pay?

  10. Anonymous says:

    I nominate all the central mangrove that has been purchased by prominent developers for the express purpose of preserving it for nature!

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