Panton departs LA after creating six protected areas

| 30/05/2017 | 26 Comments

(CNS): The outgoing environment minister has left Cayman with an historic parting gift following his four years in office. Just before the country went to the polls last week, Wayne Panton managed to get his Cabinet colleagues to sanction five important natural habitats on Grand Cayman, including Barkers and the central mangroves, and Booby Pond on Little Cayman. “This is a good result for the country,” Panton told CNS, speaking about the conservation areas against the backdrop of the disappointing election result for him and the horsetrading over a new government.

The new protected areas are: Booby Pond on Little Cayman, Barkers and Vidal Cay in West Bay, the Central Mangrove Wetlands, the Crown Cays off West Bay, Lower Valley Forest, and the Cays in the Little Sound, including Booby Cay.

Panton said that he was “extremely pleased” that the application of the National Conservation Law, which he steered through the Legislative Assembly during his first year in office, had worked to provide a very transparent process of scientific research, public consultation, assessment and eventual recommendations by the National Conservation Council to formally protect some very important areas in Cayman from the bulldozer.

“This government took the steps to protect and preserve these lands in their natural state for people of the country to enjoy,” he said. “It is also important that we protect certain feeder habitats that will enhance the tourism product.”

Although most of the land being preserved already belongs to government in Barkers and the Lower Valley Forest, some is held by private landowners who have agreed to sell to see it protected. Panton confirmed that the $6 million budgeted by his former colleague, Marco Archer, the outgoing finance minister who also lost his seat, would be used to buy the land from these willing sellers. That part will be handled by Lands and Survey, which will go through a valuation process to agree a fair market price.

The next step is to begin managing the areas, according to Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie. She explained that each protected area will be managed in different ways, depending on the reasons for the lands preservation.

Barkers will be designed to allow full public access, as the decision to protect it is to give the people access in perpetuity to the beach and shoreline in its full natural state. Other areas are being conserved to ensure feeder eco-systems that will in turn protect certain habitats and species, such as the mangrove wetlands, so access infrastructure will be very limited. Places like Lower Valley Forest will fall somewhere in between.

Ebanks-Petrie explained that the goal of the conservation areas was dual purpose: to maintain the country’s different samples of habitat for people to enjoy and to help preserve the environment —the marine environment in the case of the mangroves and land habitat in others, such as the cays for bird populations and other flora and fauna in the forest.

The conservation of these first six areas increases the overall land under any form of protection in Cayman from 7.7% to 10.3%. Before the National Conservation Law, only the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and the environmental zone offered any land preservation. She described the Cabinet approval for these protected lands as historic, as it was the first time the law was used to protect the islands’ dwindling natural resources.

Ebanks-Petrie is hopeful that the remaining areas that have been identified by the NCC but not accepted by Cabinet can, with further analysis, be reassessed and eventually sanctioned as well.

However, with the departure of Panton, the first environment minister with a genuine appreciation of the importance of properly managing and truly protecting the land and marine environment, the country’s natural resources could be in more jeopardy.

While the PPM was committed to supporting this environment minister in his endeavours, it was because he fought for and articulated the need to protect the natural resources, even in the face of opposition within the party.

As McLaughlin reorganises the front bench ahead of the Swearing In ceremony on Wednesday, the new minister will need to have the same commitment and tenacity to facilitate more protection of Cayman’s land and much-needed enhancement of its marine parks.

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Category: Land Habitat, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (26)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Mr Panton should have been our new Premier! Broken hearted that he was not re-elected!

  2. Anonymous says:

    What happened to Salt Creek?

  3. Wanted to add my thanks to Minister Panton for his efforts(still ongoing)to protect our oh so fragile environment and to wish him well til the next election.I was always able to “speak”to him whenever something came up that was of concern to me(mostly marine environment issues)and he was always willing to listen and to respond to me.Thanks again SIR for your efforts and hopefully the people of these fair islands will remember these efforts in the years to come.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr Panton for your four years of service to the country. The passing of the National Conservation Law was an historic accomplishment from which future generations will benefit. A tremendous legacy and hopefully the new Minister for the environment will continue to build on what you have done.

  5. Kent D. Green says:

    Mr. Panton,

    Thank you for your service in what is often compared to herding cats in a brushfire. For your efforts in preserving the environment via these laws as well as your efforts to maintain a viable financial services sector, that give many citizens a good standard of living, you have our thanks and appreciation.

    Rest up, enjoy some fishing, and get ready. We are going to need you again at the next election.

  6. Anonymous says:

    They all sell outs

  7. Anonymous says:

    Not taking anything away from Mr. Panton but a lot of background work was put into identifying and preserving these protective areas. Well done to all involved.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well done Mr Panton. ?

  9. Reefer says:

    Shame he couldnt save the George Town Harbour.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Now all we need to do is to stop the people visiting these places from leaving their damn rubbish there all the time, destroying their own heritage!

  11. Anonymous says:

    It took a long time to do this but thank you, Minister Panton. Losing you is a sad loss for the country. Please consider offering yourself to be of service again in the future.

    • Anonymous says:

      A genuine Caymanian, who put country first. Thank you for all the things that you have done, the laws that were put in place to protect our fragile landscape and your enthusiasm and ego to push forward for good. Bless the strong mind and competent person.

      • satirony says:

        Losing you and Marco has been a tragedy for Cayman. You have both achieved great things for us and future generations, through your professionalism and dedication. Your achievements will not be forgotten. Thank you! And thank you again!

    • Anonymous says:

      Would love to see himself or Archer as Deputy Governor!

      • Anonymous says:

        Both of these men,should be given OBE

      • Anonymous says:

        I think what we would really like to have seen is one of the two as PREMIER! Unfortunately thanks to the ignorance of voters we are stuck with the same old pile of crap, which as hard as it is to believe is even worse with the new additions of a wife beater and rcip assaulter. Not to mention the return of the neo nazi from BT that hides behind the Bible and the gambler who sees the public purse as his to play the casinos with. What a f***ing disaster.

      • Anonymous says:

        12:43. They can apply for Deputy Governor when Mr Manderson retires.

        • Anonymous says:

          Can’t they apply for the job and be judged against the current holder? Surely if nobody can replace Mr. Manderson until he retires then the whole system can just be allowed to grow stagnant? Nobody should have the right to sit in a position paid for by the people if someone else could do it better?

          • Anonymous says:

            LOL, sorry cant’ stop laughing, you mean replace a civil servant that isn’t doing their job properly….lol

          • Alice says:

            3:51. What a stupid comment. Does your employer allow people to apply for your job.

            Mr Manderson has done an excellent job. We are starting to see real change in the Civil service. No one can change things overnight. But we see every day of civil servants doing fantastic work and unscrupulous Civil servants being held accountable. Oh I just paid for my police clearance online. Wow.

    • Anonymous says:

      No loss here. Should have supported Eden in fighting to preserve our moral values.

      • Anonymous says:

        I personally do not support the idea of same sex marriage, but I really can’t believe you would post such nonsense.

        So we lost a great resource for the country and this is your answer?


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