Ten more sites proposed for protection

| 22/05/2018 | 22 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tarpon Lake, Little Cayman

(CNS): Sand Cay in South Sound and Hemmington Forest on Cayman Brac are among the ten new protected areas across all three Cayman Islands put forward by the Department of Environment, which is inviting the public to comment on its proposals. Most of the nominated sites are already owned by the Crown and in cases where the land is in private hands, discussions are underway with owners to either sell or lease the land to enable conservation plans. Each of the areas are important habitats supporting threatened and endangered, endemic and native flora and fauna.

There are two proposed sites on Little Cayman: Tarpon Lake and East Interior. In its explanation the DoE stated that Tarpon Lake is one of Little Cayman’s largest and most characteristic inland natural areas, and in addition to the tarpon, a wide range of resident and migratory water birds frequent the mangroves. Fiddler Crabs abound on exposed mud flats, and white land crabs burrow near the interface between mangroves and adjacent dry land.

The interior of Little Cayman’s east end includes open wetlands important to whistling ducks and other water birds, and native rock iguanas. Most of the area is practically inaccessible but there may well be more rare and endangered species on the land that forms the backdrop for the natural vista from the higher parts of the east coast road.

On Cayman Brac an additional parcel of the Hemmington Forest and the Eastern Lighthouse Park have been nominated.

The Hemmington Forest includes areas of Cayman Brac’s least disturbed, ancient dry forest ecosystems. The DoE said protecting this parcel will extend the Hemmington Forest area as far as the Deadman’s Point Bluff Road trail, helping to secure an existing recreational asset for residents and visitors. Protection will aid in safeguarding the remarkable biodiversity of the whole Hemmington Forest area, which is so characteristic of the island.

The eastern lighthouse area of Cayman Brac is not just home to brown booby birds but it is a very popular landscape visited by residents and vacationers attracted to the magnificent views from the cliff edges out to sea.

Half of the other six proposed sites on Grand Cayman are wetland areas in the central mangroves and on the western side of the island, where the remaining slithers of mangrove are in desperate need of protection.

Mangrove wetland has long been recognised as a vital environmental asset for the Cayman Islands, providing natural services of substantial social and economic value, the DoE stated. Adding the new parcels will improve connectivity, and in the west, where mangroves are greatly reduced and fragmented due to expanding human habitation, the protection is more important than ever.

The DoE is also proposing to expand the Salina Reserve in East End, which includes foraging, retreating and some nesting habitat for the blue iguanas. Protecting this land would aid the recovery of the iguana due to their territorial nature and the need for additional nesting areas for the expanding population. It also supports many other endangered and iconic species of both flora and fauna.

Another parcel of the Lower Valley forest, with a high density of wild fig trees, which supports a small population of the white-shouldered bat, is on the list. It is also home to a number of  endangered and endemic plants and the forest flora is notably diverse.

Sand Cay, a small emergent rock and sandbank islet in South Sound surrounded by spiraling reef, is proposed for protection because it is the site of a moderate least tern breeding colony and is a prominent part of the landscape of South Sound.

The proposals to protect these critical habitats are made possible under the National Conservation Law, which itself remains under threat. Despite clear warning signals from the current government that it intends to review and water down the legislation, which was passed in 2013, it has not yet presented any draft amendments.

As it stands, under Section 9 of the National Conservation Law, the DoE can propose sites to become permanent protected areas. The public can now submit written comments and offer support by writing to the DoE or undertaking a survey on each parcel on the website. All of the submissions will be published as part of the consultation report.

Contributions from the public will help  the National Conservation Council and Cabinet in objectively assessing the level of support or opposition for each proposal.

The consultation ends on 12 August at 5pm when the Council will take into account all written submissions before deciding whether to recommend the proposals.

See all of the proposals in detail and take the surveys on the DoE site.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    protect all they want, but without proper police / personnel ensuring…..it a total waste of time? just like marine park officers…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Point of Sand needs to be protected from DART!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sell it all to DART and put it into education

  4. Beaumont Zodecloun says:

    Sounds good to me. I still can’t believe that the CIG let Point of Sand get away from them. The more that is preserved, the better. Hemmington Pond (forest) area especially; this is an area of with a pond at its lowest elevation which is fed by a small stream which runs through a fissure in the bluff that is eight feet wide at the pond, and narrows to mere inches the further up the bluff one walks. At the top of the bluff, you can see the sparkle of water 50 or more feet below.

    I’ve taken my family there twice. It’s a bit of a rough hike, but well worth the trip, IF a timeless ecosystem is interesting to you.

    • Anonymous says:

      CIG not only let Point of Sand get away… they SOLD it to DART!! It’s gone forever now!

      • Anonymous says:

        Stupid people. ‘Leading’ a country.

      • Anonymous says:

        Truly they sold out everything to that west bay (smb) dweller to enjoy…is his a caymanian at heart? Never. He is only one on paper for sure.

      • Anonymous says:

        CIG never owned PoS, it was always in private ownership. (They didn’t buy it themselves when they should have, agreed, but CIG did not sell it. Lets try to be accurate on here because not everyone knows everything and so can be misled by ‘you know what I mean’ statements.)

  5. annonymous says:

    Better late than never!!. I remember as a child going to Tarpon Lake in South Sound, What a beautiful tourist attraction that was. Tarpon Lake was where the Rugby Field is now. Such a shame that that attraction was destroyed. the only thing left is a few post cards.that the older generation saved.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would have loved to have seen that!! I can’t believe we ripped it up so a bunch of fat stinky beer drinking guys can hug each other up in the name of sport.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Protected until Dart gets the urge to pump some more concrete!

  7. Say it like it is says:

    Plenty here for Ezzard to get his teeth into.

  8. PPM Distress Signal says:

    9:16am question is that a valid reason why it should not be protected? You is a real fool yo!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sand Cay in South Sound! hahahaha Lets be real, no one was ever going to build anything on Sand Cay! Just look what is left of the concrete lighthouse that used to be on Sand Cay… The foundation was ripped out of the ground by the forces of nature and is now on the opposite side of the island.

    • anonymous says:

      Protection doesn’t only mean prevention of building. As a South Sounder I can recall when people from nearby districts would come and take all of the bird’s eggs to the point where the birds stopped coming there to nest. Also, they would have picnics there and leave all of their of garbage there. If protection puts a stop to those practices then I’m all for it.

    • Johnny Yates says:

      The lighthouse foundation didn’t move. The key, a pile of coral rubble, was washed away by hurricane Ivan, then reformed by wave action farther west of its original position.

      • Anonymous says:

        Have you been to the key before making this statement? The foundation is upside down and has 100% moved. The island only changed shape slightly during Ivan.

      • Anonymous says:

        Either way it’s not a viable site for development.

      • SSM345 says:

        Learned the words to “Can’t Touch This” on top that lighthouse back in 1990; the foundation has definitely moved since.

    • Anonymous says:

      I know a guy that does scooter rentals on Sand Cay if you’re interested.


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