Real protection needed to stop mangrove clearance

| 03/09/2019 | 55 Comments

(CNS): The Department of Environment is hoping that if Cabinet accepts the recommendations of the National Conservation Council for a species protection plan for mangroves, it will help curtail the constant clearance of these important plants for development. With a number of sites, from West Bay to Snug Harbour, being cleared of mangroves in recent months ahead of more canal and other developments, the DoE is in a constant battle to preserve them.

Despite mangrove buffer zones on the now extremely dated National Development Plan and the DoE’s recommendations that developers try to use mangroves in landscaping and retain the buffers around canal developments, they are often ignored. The DoE urges developers not to clear mangroves until construction is ready to start, but that advice is also often unheeded, with some developers clearing sites even before planning permission is granted without any apparent consequences.

“The clearing of mangroves is a major issue and it is happening sometimes without permission and it is too late for us to have any input after the fact,” DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie told CNS.

She hopes that the proposed species protection plan for mangroves will make it harder for the CPA to ignore the environmental issues regarding mangroves and will stop this general clearance of mangroves unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Ebanks-Petrie said that clearance should not be happening without some kind of scrutiny. The DoE should be making their recommendations to planning about proposed developments on uncleared land, especially about eco-alternatives to mass land clearance that can lead to landscapes that are native and far easier and cheaper to manage.

While the DoE has managed with work with the developers to preserve a mangrove buffer at one planned canal development off the Esterly Tibbetts Highway, they were not so successful with another development. They were unable to prevent the CPA from granting planning permission to a site where the mangrove buffer has now been completely cleared. Even government has ripped out several acres of mangrove off Boatswain Road ahead of the development of a new police station in West Bay.

With little legal power to stop these critical species from being removed, the director and her team at the DoE are pinning their hopes on the Mangrove Species Conservation Plan, which is now with Cabinet. If it becomes law, it will limit the take and removal of all the key native species and help towards their future conservation.

“Mangrove conservation is a major priority,” Ebanks-Petrie said. “They play an important part in drainage and can be really beneficial to developments as they help protect properties from flooding.”

She said the plan still allows for development but the removal will need to be justified, otherwise it will be an offence to remove them.

Under the National Conservation Law, mangroves are a protected species, but all species listed in part 2 of the schedule of the law need to be placed under a conservation plan before they acquire legislative protection.

Mangrove loss has been so extensive in Cayman in recent decades that it has triggered a local Red-Listing criteria. In 2008 the Cayman Islands national International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status of black mangrove was assessed as endangered, white mangrove and buttonwood both as vulnerable, and red mangrove as near-threatened.

Under the Ramsar Convention (1971), which has been extended to the Cayman Islands, government is required to work towards the wise use of mangrove and other wetlands through national protections. But instead we have continued to watch their clearance and removal. As well as being critical in their own right in their ability to protect the entire island against major flooding, mangrove communities support a diverse range of species, from crustaceans to birds. They also act as marine nurseries, where they interface with the sea.

Mangroves are noted for shoreline protection, carbon sequestration and storage, filtering of sediment and pollutants, and as habitat for threatened species. But over-development and climate change pose major threats. Rising seas combined with increased or intense hurricanes along with road construction and land filling can literally lead to the drowning of mangroves.

See the conservation plan in the CNS Library


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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (55)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    let the experts judge and decide…..if that is possible in cayman.
    everybody else moaning are hypocrites probably living in an area once covered by mangroves…..zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good luck on that…. physical development is the priority and not intellectual. This is why our people will always be left behind and there is no path to self determination. ‘Emanicipate yourself from mental slavery, it’s only us that can free our minds’ in the words of Bob Marley.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    get over it!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    it is very sad that the people who are in charge, (and yes Alden I am talking to you specifically) and should be looking out and saving and protecting our natural resources either don’t care or do not have the sense to know the detriment or danger to our country and its resources.

    Please stop this destruction soon or it will be forever too late. thanks.

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  5. ppm ridiculous agenda says:

    Yes I agree but we need protection from this unity mafiya now destroying Trees , coral mangrove and everything deem to be Caymanian all in the name of greed by our dumbass so called political dear leaders and their sic mind games! yes Alden yah ras!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    If one person own so much land and and have the money to build what do you expect plans are already been made. This is where what we what we sold as trash turn to gold.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Lets use Hurricane Dorian as an example of the future? Did any mangrove swamp stop any waves that reached 8-25 feet in height? I have a cousin in Prospect that had 4ft of sea water in the road in front of his house and his car and house was untouched by the sea. Why? Because his house and car was higher then the road. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out we need to fill in the swamp for the future. We need to bring this island higher then the storm water coming in the future. Otherwise, it will cross this island in the next hurricane in LOW LYING swampland. Drainage is another problem, Hurleys grocery store had a much lower amount of sea water crossing in that developed property which was once swampland. The reality is very far from the perceived false narrative of save the swamp. As we look at undeveloped areas of the world we see people MOVING from islands to higher ground. Why? Common sense. We are a coral Atoll, we are sitting on 800 feet of limestone so dig it and make higher ground.

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    • Anonymous says:

      6:34 Incorrect. We have a fringing reef not a coral atoll. Mangroves help to reduce wave power but will not stop it completely particularly if we keep cutting them down. Having them is still better than not having them you fool.Fill in the swamp? Your thought process is alarming. Do your research before running your mouth bobo. the reason we have drainage problems is because people cover everything with concrete which doesn’t absorb water.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, my house is built high also. I can watch the water from a heavy rain run off the road (more recently raised than in Prospect) form a little stream down the space between my and the neighbor’s older house and then settle in the lower, undeveloped, land in the back of my neighbor’s yard until it fills up over the ridge of their fence line and into the fresh water swamp (wetland) behind them. (Technically my deep wells catch all of the water on my property, so I’m not technically flooding my neighbor.) The problem with everyone filling/raising every square inch of their property (as I did, mine is smaller than my neighbors) is the water naturally finds the next lowest point to go. If that isn’t a preserved wetland (mangroves in the case of the article, bull-rushes in my neighborhood) then its just going to go into the oldest/lowest house in the neighborhood. Eventually, your cousin’s house is going to be the old one with new stuff built around and higher. See Randyke Gardens for a real life example. They didn’t flood until the wetlands around them were filled in by people building higher than Randyke Gardens.

      Unless you’re seriously suggesting that we fill the entire Grand Cayman to 20+ feet above sea-level, with grading from the center to the new coastal cliffs (the waterfalls at the edge will be beautiful in a heavy rain) then we need to save the wetlands (in a managed manner). But if a 20ft+ high hurricane-flood-proof bastion in the ocean is what you’re suggesting, please send that to Plan Cayman as they’ve got some revisions to do.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Coral Atoll – “This circular type of coral reef, called an atoll, is created as a ring of coral surrounds an undersea volcano that has risen above the water’s surface. Long after the volcano has receded into the ocean, the atoll remains.” (NationalGeographic.org) Grand Cayman is not a coral atoll.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Happy sailor, dancing on a sinking ship. I think you don’t really grasp the problem.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    If you think this government gives, or will give, a rats ass about mangroves then you live in a dream world!

    All they care about is turning this place into a concrete parking lot. Too much money, power and nepotism.

    Can you imagine if they told our Lord Dart (may peace be apon him) that he can’t develop because of the mangroves?! All hell would break loose and the planning department (which does anything but plan) would be disbanded.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Population growth is the root problem. Too many people equals too much development/destruction.

    If we keep adding humans to Grand Cayman with no vision or sensible goal in mind, more land will be devoured. If people are here they must have land, homes, and resources. Therefore, continually expanding the population, with no endgame in sight, is the height of government neglect, incompetence, and/or corruption.

    Fewer people, less devastation. More people, more devastation. Why is this so hard to understand?

    #lame

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    • Anonymous says:

      Correct. Rapid population growth is at the root of the problem and CIG says full steam ahead for 100,000 plus people. Our quality of life will continue to deteriorate.

      We cannot even figure out how to have regular garbage pick ups and how to remove Mount Trashmore. The future is not bright on Grand Cayman from an environment perspective.

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    • Anonymous says:

      God said to keep breeding and subdue nature. So get busy.

    • Anonymous says:

      not necessarily, if we built a 370 story tower block, everyone could live in that, leaving the rest of Cayman to nature.

      Go dart, see he is just trying to save the natural mangrove, well a little bit somewhere

      lol

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  10. Anonymous says:

    if only all developers had the environmental concerns of dart.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    This just goes to show how greedy our politicians are. One one hand they have passed laws to make illegal to cage a parrot after the amnesty yet developers are giving the green light to bull dozed acres of mangroves. With global warming and rise of sea levels it would be a no brainer to protect the islands from future storm surges. One can see from the devastation in the Bahamas that or greedy politicians would take heed. Terrible thing these politicians are doing, yet we honor them with OBE, JP, DR, MBE, ETC……

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Protection???? How bout stop building!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Developers rule on Grand Cayman. What they want they get always.

      They consistently show that they do not give a damn about the environment.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Stop all this stupid talk. We need these developments to maintain our life style. Eliminate all this wasteful environmental nonscence and let the developers continue. Thank goodness our leaders and the CPA know this and do not pat any attention to all these complainers.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Are you high or a realtor?

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      • Anonymous says:

        No fool Financial service is what makes maintains our high standard of living. I really worry about the sanity of some of my fellow residence #facepalm

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        • Anonymous says:

          Well fool all you financial services hot shots want your big water front homes so we have to make room for you. So what if some old trees get knocked down, at least you fat cats have your mansion and big stable of cars and living income tax free, You want to stop all this rampant development then get all these money hungry people to start living in plain old housing like it used to be and implement an income tax so they start paying their fair share. Now lets see what all you tax dodging foreigners have to bitch about now.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Ha – ha – ha; that will never happen because we have bought & paid for you people. When you all were running up to sell and grab the money you should have realized you also loose your right to say anything. You are all just empty words and no action.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Clearing the mangroves and filling the area high looks like a better protection and we all get rid of mosquitos and creates wealth and jobs evenue for the government. What is the problem?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Bet you won’t be saying that when you’re standing waist deep in water after the next hurricane hits us.

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      • Anonymous says:

        It was waist deep last time. Probably at least neck deep next, and if any more mangroves are cleared with no replanting, totally underwater soon.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You seriously don’t understand the difference between thick mangrove growth and a filled lot? Please research the many benefits of mangroves. It’s the Information Age. No excuse for such ignorance.

      #lame

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    • Anonymous says:

      The problem is you brain, or its absence.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Sickening. Just wait for the next storm…

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    • Anonymous says:

      If one thinks Hurricane Ivan was bad in 2004 wait until the next one hits. We have lost 50% of our mangroves since 2004. Mangroves slow down the tidal surge which accompanies massive hurricanes.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Take a look at the footage coming out of the Bahamas right now – that’s a warning of what might happen here!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Look at the footage of the main airport on Grand Bahama. Now a big lake and the BBC says it could be 6 weeks before the lake disappears. So many similarities to our airport next to North Sound. We should be very concerned here.

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  15. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    Mangroves are the lifeblood of our ecology. Not saying that they can never be cleared, but it shouldn’t be done without informed scrutiny. A developer can’t always have a sandy beach if it means tearing out hundreds of feet of Mangrove.

    During tropical cyclone times, Mangroves protect more than just the properties immediately behind them. Sea Grape also, which culls rock and surge and takes so very long to grow.

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  16. South Sounder says:

    Perhaps there can be an incentive for people to transplant mangrove suckers or how about ‘plant a mangrove, save the planet’ day? Sadly I fear that we need to be replanting as we are beyond the point of protection.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    It is already an offense to clear any land by mechanical means without planning permission. No one follows or enforces any law here. We tolerate this because we are corrupt, or we are short sighted idiots. Maybe both.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Hah hah. Do you know what the fine is? Hint, it can often be cheaper than bothering with a planning application.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yes I do…it is $1000.00 per acre.

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        • Anonymous says:

          So I should bother with a planning application why again?

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          • Anonymous says:

            Because if anyone bothered to enforce the law all planning permissions could be forever denied on unlawfully cleated parcels. The profits from anything created unlawfully could be confiscated as the proceeds of crime, and the property confiscated and donated to the National Trust.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Where was your house built? Hypocrites.

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