DoE seeking to protect 20% of Cayman’s environment

| 03/12/2018 | 23 Comments
Cayman News Service

Map of protected land areas in the Cayman Islands (click to enlarge)

(CNS): Five years after the historic passage of the National Conservation Law, the Department of Environment said that so far it has managed to designate 3,477 acres of land across the three Cayman Islands as public protected areas. Another 634 acres on Grand Cayman are pending for protection, which accounts for just over 6% of the country’s land. But DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie has said that the ideal goal is to have around one fifth of the Cayman Islands’ natural habitat under lawful protection.

“Ideally, we want to have a minimum 20% overall protected land area, in line with international recommendations,” she said in a press release. “Of course, we are delighted that the initial transactions for the protected areas have now been completed. This has always been one of the core purposes of the National Conservation Law (NCL). These new protected areas now safeguard several areas that Caymanians have always valued for their natural beauty and the spectacular diversity of flora and fauna there.”

Cayman News Service

Little Cayman Wetlands (click to enlarge)

The areas under conservation are rich in biodiversity and will ensure that present and future generations of Caymanians, residents and visitors will be able to enjoy the unique natural beauty of these island, given the massive expansion in development over the last four decades. The protected areas were all identified from public nominations that were received and considered by the National Conservation Council.

Where land of specific natural value was in private hands, the DoE contacted the landowners to ask if they were interested in selling to government for protected area purposes. Those nominations advanced only with landowners’ consent and consultation with adjacent landowners, as well as the wider public, the DoE explained. Cabinet then had the final say on all protected area nominations.

Prior to the passage of the conservation law, the only protected land in the Cayman Islands was in the hands of the National Trust. In the absence of any mandatory requirements to protect the natural habitat and with the help of private donations, the non-profit organisation had managed to buy local land to save some of the unique habitats and heritage.

Cayman News Service

Cayman Brac, South Bluff (click to enlarge)

But the passage of the conservation law has enabled the DoE to carve out over 4,000 acres of the most important habitat and protect it from potential development well into the future.

“This is a monumental advance for such a small islands territory in the Caribbean region,” said Fred Burton, the manager of the DoE Terrestrial Resources Unit. “It could not have been possible without the full support of our elected officials and the implementation of the National Conservation Law.”

The legislation, spearheaded by the former environment minister Wayne Panton, had unanimous support in the Legislative Assembly when it was passed, but since then it has been criticised by both government and the opposition and is under threat of being watered down.

Both Premier Alden McLaughlin and Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour have publicly undermined the legislation, with the premier describing elements of the law as “ridiculous”. Seymour has criticised the National Conservation Council and advocated to restore the legal importation, purchase and use of spear-guns. After two years in office, he has done nothing to advance the much-needed marine park enhancements.

Cayman News Service

Barkers, West Bay (click to enlarge)

The government has said it intends to undertake a wider review the legislation, raising concerns that the law will be weakened in order to allow more development.

However, in a press release about the NCL’s fifth anniversary, Seymour said that more land would be protected.

“We’re not done with this effort,” he said. “Our government colleagues, including the National Conservation Council and the Department of Environment (DoE), continue their work each year to identify, or promote the public nomination of, further potential protected land areas.

“While we recognise the importance of development, we have to strike a careful balance between progress and the need to safeguard our environment for future generations of residents and visitors to enjoy,” he said.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (23)

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  1. Al Catraz says:

    The LORD says to subjugate the earth. Preserving wilderness is paganism. Once again, Cayman rejects the Bible.

  2. say it like it is says:

    Who owns this “protected land”, is it now owned by the CIG?.. You do not state how much land is vested in the National Trust which owns their land which will never be developed.

  3. Caymanian says:

    Get it closer to 40% and I’ll be satisfied.

  4. Anonymous 101 says:

    Anonymous 8:28 pm , that’s right , the over a half CI dollars don’t be given away without strings been attached , like Jotner said you would have to stupid to believe it was free .

    • Anonymous 101 says:

      I think that the Government need to be handsoff/ protected from the Environment too .

    • They Paved Paradise and PUT UP A PARKING LOT says:

      A good news story. But it will not undo the port construction in George Town if it is allowed to proceed. Yesterday lunchtime i saw families of tourists swimming and snorkelling in crystal clear water as cruisecships anchored safely offshore and tenders quietly shuttled back and forth. This beauty will be buried forever under concrete and we shall have those 10+ storey cruise ships looming over GT with their engines running non stop. “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Protect” land owned by locals, on the eastern side of the island…..allow investors to utilize their land on the western side, to maximize prophets.

    • Anonymous says:

      Silly comment, those same “ locals” are the ones giving mostly expat led real estate firms their properties to sell to potential developers, at times with a multi million dollar price tag. This is especially true in the eastern districts. Conservation is desparately needed in all three islands, and it doesn’t matter the origin of the land.

    • Anonymous says:

      As long as they are not false prophets

  6. Unison says:

    The DOE should focus on capturing the beaches! Are we not are a part of the natural habitat? The beaches are the only place we can go to, destress ourselves, and cope from the busy affairs of life. Just sitting in the sand and hearing the waves, seeing the ocean, and feeling the water and sand … these things improve mental health and peaceful spirit.

    If foreignors and wealthy folk buy up all the beaches, what will we have to destress of future generation??? Buy our kids more games and electronic devices??? Oh please! ? I guarantee well-off folk will make more parking-access to the beaches very hard. Give it another 10 years with the mute powerless politicians we have. More beach accesses will be deliberately set up in a way that both young and elderly folk, will not be able to safely enter them. We see some rediculous beach accesses along West Bay road with no space but the dangerous main road to park along!

    I say the best our politicians can do now is to CAPTURE as much beach lands as possible!


    • Anonymous says:

      They don’t give a rats bottom about protecting beaches. Why? Because it is highly desirous by “foreign investors”. It’s amazing how MANGROVES can be mowed down on the western peninsula without APPROVAL!!! Yet, we can’t get a road to farm land in the eastern districts. Even less a proper road network. All a bunch of hypocrites.

      On another note, the National Trust has huge land holdings of protected lands. This should be included in the DoE’s calculation.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank God for the National Trust who understands the importance of protecting and safeguarding our vulnerable environment for present and future generations of Caymanians to enjoy.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The seabed has been continuously destroyed from 1937 till today when Cruise ships dropped anchors on the drop-off reef. More than 1500 feet has been destroyed going north to south. We still forget how many times the famous Eden Rocks has been hit by cargo and Cruise ships, no matter how many times people turn their heads away from videos showing the obvious. Which by the way, is shown continuously around the world that the reef is dying. Global warming in one breath is reduced to “No-no its growing back,” “No-no look at this section here this is still doing fine.” Either the world is dying or its recovering.
    Swampland has been on the table to be protected for over 30 years. Most of it is developed on the west side of Grand Cayman. It has become worth a lot of money, the National Trust and DOE has consistently dropped the ball with landowners who would sell but at a reasonable price. But time after time it has become a waiting game. Let’s see how that old person hangs on? Maybe they’re divorcing or sick or some other excuse. They can give their property to a chosen individual who will most likely sell to a developer. Real Estate is flourishing and will continue to flourish for foreigners to buy. It’s only a matter of time.

  8. lisby johnson estate says:

    Lisby Johnson estate has to get our land back into the estate and the national Trust has a major part of it wrongful and it is for us to decide on our land in due time it will be resolved one way or the other.

  9. Satirony says:

    “There is no Planet B.” We tend to forget this, also that “you can save a forest a hundred times, but you can only lose it once.”

  10. Anonymous says:

    DOE seeks to protect Cayman environment” while at the same time our fearless leader is cutting a deal with the Cruise lines to wreck the seabed. Is that not part of the environment too?
    Alden I can’t wait to see the end of the destruction that you are causing.

  11. Anonymous says:

    its a pity that the dorks didn’t try to save the waterfront from destruction.

  12. Anonymous says:

    you are a bit late on saving the environment of the seabed. Pompous Alden seems to have got his way with his port, damn fool. All for money for their political supporters.
    Is he having the port named after him too?

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