National Trust calls for locals to buy back Cayman

| 20/08/2020 | 61 Comments
Mangroves (Photo by Omari Rankine)

(CNS): The National Trust for the Cayman Islands has launched a new campaign urging local people to buy back Cayman and save the islands’ dwindling natural resources from the bulldozer. Buying land to conserve it for the Cayman people so that no one can ever develop it is one of the main goals of the Trust. But it is becoming increasingly difficult, officials have said, given the high price of land here, so the non-profit organisation is asking the people to help.

Every little helps, Trust director Nadia Hardie said this week, as she raised concerns about the pressing need to buy critical habitat to save in perpetuity for future generations before it is too late.

“I am very concerned that Cayman will be looking to develop its way out of this economic slump and fill the hole left by tourism with construction,” she told CNS, as she explained that the new campaign was used by the Nationa Trust in Bermuda to great effect.

When the Trust buys land, its own legislation prevents it from being sold for development, so as long as it remains in the Trust’s hands, critical habitat will not be under threat from being covered in concrete, Hardie explained.

Worried about the massive loss of mangrove habitat in particular, she said that whether we accept it or not, the seas are rising and Cayman is low lying and flat and on the front line of climate change.

“But no one is really talking about climate change and what will happened here much sooner than people may realise,” she said, emphasising the importance of preserving the natural habitats that can protect us. “In the same way the reef can protect the coastline from storms, the mangroves protect the land from flooding.”

But it continues to be under threat. While the Department of Environment has now secured ‘critical habitat’ status for mangroves, that does not mean they are safe from the bulldozer. Developers frequently clear these important sites without planning permission and we have lost more than 70% of mangrove cover on the western side of Grand Cayman as well as a myriad of other flora.

Hardie said that with more land being bought in the central wetland area and land prices persistently rising, the Trust must increase its land ownership to save our natural resources.

“If everyone here could donate just a small amount there are enough of us to buy back some of what we are losing,” she added. “The only way to really secure and protect land for future generations of Caymanians from development is for the Trust to own it.”

Fundraising for the Trust, like many NPOs, has been difficult over the last few months. Their annual event for the Land Trust was not able to go ahead and donations to non-profits are being directed towards COVID-related projects and feeding those in need.

But despite the need to help people heavily impacted by the pandemic, this is not the time to forget about the environment, Hardie added, as she urged the community to help the NT buy back Cayman.


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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (61)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Buy it back from the Caymanians that want to develop it? You mean the “Five Families”? Ha!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Land is in short supply because the government makes it a requirement for Permanent Residence applicants to own a piece in order to apply to stay on the island. My husband and I had no interest in buying our own house. We love the house we’ve rented for 12 years, but to qualify for PR, we were forced to buy land we don’t even want. And we are forced to hold it in order to be allowed to stay on the island. That’s why Caymanians can’t find any land at affordable prices – because the government makes the PR applicants buy it whether they want it or not. At least the piece we own will sit there undeveloped and we’ll look after it as a small area for wildlife in a sea of overdevelopment.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Okay, here is an idea. NT should sell its land with irrecoverable covenants not allowing development. Then use the funds raised to buy more land with similar covenants on resale. Provide tax receipts to offshore buyers and money would be invested.

  4. Kman says:

    Good idea from the National Trust and I’m happy to donate to this worthy cause. Yet what’s the point in having $50 million in the Environmental Fund if it can’t be used to buy land in the wetlands and other environmentally important areas and heritage sites. I guess this fund is only for ’emergency funds’ that suits our mindless politicians to use.
    I propose that we start with a National Environmental Act that $4million would be used to create national parks, proper hiking and biking trails and is properly managed by the National Park Services with actual camping/recreational areas. Of course I’m a Caymanian with over 25 years experience in the tourism industry who’s suggesting this and it’ll be worthless compared to some reputable foreign marketing consultant. The National Trust has to be clear on also preserving Caymanian homes and buildings which it doesn’t seem to interested in pursuing.

  5. Cayman needs more parks says:

    I heard government owned waterfront land across the street from Hurley’s in case they built a cruise pier there but then in the last year or so sold it off to private developers.

    If true, that is the kind of valuable land that should never have been sold to make more oceanfront condos but could have been developed into a beautiful park that locals could enjoy with their family.

    Our island needs much more open space parks especially along the waterfront and that huge stupid wall across the street from Hurley’s should never have been allowed to be built. It looks horrible and is a disgrace.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Successive recent maladministrations have misappropriated control of the $40mln Environmental Protection Funds as their rainy day piggy reserve. They used it to prop the CIG into a compliant position under the Public Management and Finance Law (ie. 90 days payroll), and to steal funds for diametrically opposing purposes, such as pro-port campaigns (which would necessitate the dredging of protected marine park), and airline bailouts. Wayne Panton’s hard-fought National Conservation Law was hopeful in spirit, but has proven to be yet another papering exercise and an optical illusion in practice. Alden has stated that he (and the rest of his Cabinet) seek to “remove these sort of impediments to the proper development of these islands”. Yet another glaring indictment of where the Governor/FCO needs to urgently intervene.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yet the DOE fails to ensure their Enforcement team has the equipment to do their jobs. Who ever is running that maladministered and apparently inept enforcement department needs to go, and go quickly. They are failing us all.

  7. Bob Miller says:

    Where’s the Chairman of the National Trust these days…maybe the developers he is working for in Beach Bay can pony up with some of money they saved from all the subsidies?

    Has the National Trust considered speaking to all the developer’s?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Cayman has two problems here. One that’s Caymanian’s have sold off their land. And two planning. The planning board allows to pass or allow some to do and build whatever they want with no regard to zoning including destroying the mangroves. It’s who you know. And money talks. Look what happened with Dixie Cemetery. The building on the seaside so close to the graves should have never been approved. Anything for a dollar and no regard to the forefather’s of this Island. If planning had any regard they would have passed the hotel only if the small seaside area would remain vacant for future generations to enjoy the seaside view and respect for the graves. This needs to stop. Time for the old boys planning board to be replaced as Caymanian’s will never get their land back now.

    • Anonymous says:

      And it’s a CAYMANIAN developer too (one of the ‘born and bred’ species.

    • Anonymous says:

      Government should have bought that strip of land next to Dixie and turned it into a small park. Or better yet the developers should have donated it the Cayman Island as respect for our fore fathers. Once again such a shame and no foresight by so many people involved including planning..

  9. "Anonymousir" says:

    The National Trust should understand that this has become harder for locals because of the same government they keep voting for … we will do our best to acquire and save Cayman, but this will be challenging …

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sadly the story we see here is one that shows us no hope for our future. Just remember when it was said, that the vision for cayman was to be like Monaco. Now you have to ask yourself, what is Monaco really. What do they produce? Are they self-sufficient?

    The leadership wants to be like a city-nation that relies on rich and wealthy to show up and gamble and invest. Still dependent on others. This is why the natural resources have no true protection. We have laws but noone enforces. Its because the vision for the future does not include mangroves, or self sufficiency, its to be a place of refuge for the rich.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Land is unattainable for the average Caymanian. I barely managed to afford the land investment I’ve purchased with my significant other. We did the math and can afford the payments and we have reserves should anything happen and either of us are out of work for a bit, but it truly is unattainable. The prices continue to rise and the “stamp duty concession/exemption” criteria will no longer be applicable as the concession has strict limitations. I am a first time caymanian land/home buyer and I got no exemption due to the price of the land.

    Also, I understand that planning has no authority to impose any punishments for those developers who bulldoze protected habitats. They just walk in and say “oops”. That being said, we the people need to hold government accountable for this. They are more worried about gay marriage and sending the “wrong” message, while we allow the message to be sent that you can come here and skirt around the rules because we don’t enforce it. We need to hold our representatives responsible for their inaction.

    Also, NO WEED NO VOTE.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with everything except for the no weed no vote nonsense.That should not be the determining factor. There are many other important variables that need to be addressed first, other than you all being able to light a spliff. You’re indulging in weed now, so holding off for a bit won’t interfere with your pastime.

  12. Anonymous says:

    swamp sells but who’s buying?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been secretly purchasing up large tracts of seven mile beach. As soon as I finish with that I will purchase some mangrove.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians no longer own the land of Cayman. They just own the Government which right now is in great debt and now thanks to Covid is getting even deeper into dept. Not much money coming in now and in the future but spending is on track to pay Civil service for the next year, at least 20 million to keep its name on some planes and what? 10 million this year to own a swimming pool with turtles in it. Not hard to see that in a year things will have changed radically. UK will have to step up after CIG fails. The great Caymanian welfare program will crash and burn and those who actually own Cayman islands will be in charge. At last. Caymanians have time to stop this and turn it around but they do not have the discipline. They will actually pick up speed as they head to the cliff. It is fun to watch as things balance out.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What happens to the land the trust purchases? Does it sit there or does the public get to enjoy it? I’d be all for raising a boatload of cash if we could get land with a walking trail but it’s hard to convince most people to contribute to buying land they can never be allowed to set foot on.

    • Anonymous says:

      You need to have a little land where the wildlife can take refuge and not be picked up for the camera. You can walk the Mastic trail right now and never see another soul other than birds and wildlife. Have you tried it lately?

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ve walked the mastic trail many times but it would be nice to have a choice. Look at other islands in the Caribbean that have plenty hiking trails and some areas reserved just for fauna (I agree there is the need for that too). We have the mastic trails and if you’re generous Barkers park (where I run and bike all the time) that many people sadly seem to confuse with the landfill 🙁 but aside from that, my main point was that purely from a marketing human behavior perspective, you’re much more likely to get donations if you tell people what’s in it for them now (as opposed to a vague future promise of protection from an uncertain event)

    • Anonymous says:

      I would love to hike the Salinas reserve, if it was feasible to make passable, and if public could be trusted with it. Cliffs, caves, wildlife appreciation. Sadly, the risk is that jerks continue to use any opened areas as dog runs – including the explicitly no-dog Mastic trail, and as dumping grounds as you rightly point out. The end of the access road to Salinas is heaped with disgraceful Nor’sider trash and party debris. We don’t need to risk extermination of all the remaining Blue iguana simply because someone feels their leash-less high-strung rescue dog needs a walkies.

  16. Anonymous says:

    We would but our pension money done gone on new car and iPhone

  17. Anonymous says:

    Money talks, as long as investors can come with their plans to destroy the mangroves, this government will give them the ok to do so. Then, on top of that, concessions are given and revenue is lost and it is all done in the name of development. If they have the millions to build they should have the money to pay duties. What incentive is given to the local investors or local people? We sure as hell have to pay through our ribs. Can’t wait for 2021 for justice to be served.

    • Hubert says:

      Sorry to tell you but you will be disappointed in 2021 because the alternative is no better. Just rearranging the chairs on the Titanic.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lol I like that perfect description.. Rearranging the chairs on the Titanic.
        So good.
        I can’t wait for the first opportunity to use that.

        • Pedant Overboard says:

          Well get it right. The correct expression is “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”. It is very old. Probably dates as far back as late April, 1912.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Better not ask Barbara for her help..

  19. Anonymous says:

    Bless you Nadia, but you’re living in a Utopian vision of Cayman that has been ravaged by successive governments so deep in corruption they don’t even think they are.

    Look at the heights of buildings already on the SMB corridor, and wait for the new announcements of how high they’re continuing to go. Look at the roads, the underpasses, the bridges, the lack of visible SMB oceanfront for the public, the homes and condos on South Sound so close to the road you can grab a sandwich when you drive past, the over building at Rum Point (RUM POINT!! WHY?! WHY??!), the drive by Dart to keep encroaching on Barkers, and on, and on, and on

    And the Dump. And the neglect of GT.

    and the price of land. and the cronyism. Who’s on the committees for development? Who owns the customs clearing and home depot companies?

    Nadia, the land is doomed. They don’t care. They’ll be dead, and their kids will have moved on with the money made here to somewhere 20 ft above sea level.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians are the worst offenders for clearing the natural environment.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately this goes against what government has been encouraging. They are encouraging and giving incentives for development. They want higher story buildings, they want millionaire expats.

    There is no clear vision of where we want Cayman to go or what we want to preserve.

    Hope the new faces running for office are vocal and honest about what they want so the people can elect people based on clear premises.

  22. Harley45 says:

    How much have the sea levels risen in The Cayman area?

    • Anonymous says:

      Buy back Cayman? That ship has sailed..but where was the National Trust when Ritz ripped out all the mangroves on west bay road and hid it behind marl?????

      • Anonymous says:

        Super against it and took legal action. Idiot. The government changed the law after that so the NT couldn’t object unless it was an adjacent landowner. So oblivious it makes me angry. You could even just google it.

    • Anonymous says:

      No data = no answer

      • Hubert says:

        I don’t need data. I can see Mount Trashmore grows higher every day.

        A disgrace for all of the do nothing officials with political power for the past 20 years.

        Not even a plan after 2 decades.

      • Anonymous says:

        Between 1900 and 2016, the sea level rose by 16–21 cm. More precise data gathered from satellite laser/spectral/radar measurements reveal an accelerating rise of 7.5 cm from 1993 to 2017, which had been a trend of roughly 30 cm per century, but is no longer an imperceptible linear progression. Ice reflector melt and sea level rise is accelerating, temperatures, salinity levels and ocean currents are changing, and with that weather. Some say there is an irreversible positive feedback loop where we can now only hope that collective political actions can slow the pace. We can debate about the percentage of climate change that is attributed to humanity, but there is no scientific argument on the data reality of climate change. Although the acute water sea level engineering problems may still be beyond the horizon of many of our lifetimes, many of the denying skeptics will witness the unforgivable exhaustion of major natural fisheries in next 15 years as the population doubles. Regrettably, some folks won’t really “get it” until there’s no more sushi platters. Wait – what happened? Why didn’t you say something? Many had. For 40+ years.

    • Anonymous says:

      In The Cayman area? Huh?
      Grand Cayman is 28 x 3 miles long (give or take depending on who you’re talking to). That IS the area.
      Then of course the area of Little Cayman And the Brac.
      3 areas of the Cayman Islands. Never to be referred to as the Caymans as the newbies, tourists, and flight attendants do. (Like BVI, not the BVI’s)

      Didn’t answer your specific question but I hope that helps.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Oddly enough, this was the whole purpose of the Environmental Protection Fund this regime regularly steals from to balance their books.

    • Anonymous says:

      Stop talking %@#£!

      • Anonymous says:

        “The fund was set up in 1997 to acquire land for conservation purposes and other environmental projects. But in the intervening 15 years, it has mostly been used to help shore up the government’s reserve cash coffers, as well as for some infrastructure projects and post-Hurricane Ivan clean-up.

        Director of the Department of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie said the fund had not been meant to be used [as part of the government reserve], but rather to buy land and support conservation efforts.

        “The only way we will ever get conservation land is to buy it at sale market value. We realised some time ago that we would need to get some money in order to do that and for other conservation projects, not just government conservation, but for other conservation organisations, like the National Trust.

        “The idea was that you would apply for grant money from the fund if your project met certain criteria. It was also envisaged to be out of the hands of government as a separate trust to be managed by a board of trustees comprising government and private sector. That is not how it has transpired,” she said.

        According to the 2011/2012 Annual Plan and Estimates, the Environment Protection Fund contained $39.8 million and receives between $4 million and $5 million a year, gathered through departure taxes charged to travellers leaving Cayman via the airport or the cruise ship terminal.

        Instead of being used for environmental projects, the Environmental Protection Fund is mostly used to bolster the reserve funds the government is legally required to have under the Public Management and Finance Law to run Cayman for 90 days.”

    • Anonymous says:

      But “Mangrove soup” McKeeva and “Let’s abolish the conservation law” Alden want that for their pet projects.

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