Activists propose conservation plan for mangroves

| 25/05/2021 | 60 Comments

(CNS): Sustainable Cayman has come up with a comprehensive, logical and workable solution to preserve some of the threatened wetland in South Sound. With hundreds of acres of critical mangrove habitat under threat from a significant amount of proposed development in the area, the local activist group has suggested a wildlife corridor scheme for the South Sound basin, creating a Mangrove Nature Park and Tarpon Alley Trail. The proposed plan even fits with previous government’s PlanCayman to create attractive, accessible natural spaces for the public alongside future development.

A spokes person for Sustainable Cayman told CNS that this has been presented to the PACT Government, which has already expressed an interest and the proposal is being looked at by technical experts. The conservationists are confident that they have ticked all of the boxes with this proposal, providing a way to allow some development in the area while at the same time conserving much of the wetland area currently under threat.

Sustainable Cayman also believes that this will be a popular plan with the public, given the research work they have conducted and the results of a month-long public opinion survey in March conducted by Amplify Cayman, another local NGO concerned about the impact of over-development on the lives of residents. The survey asked questions about local and global environmental issues impacting Cayman and decisions made by the government on development.  

“Encouragingly, respondents felt that environmental planning and community engagement could be improved, with over 95% of respondents supporting national and neighbourhood plans, with effective consultation processes,” Sustainable Cayman said. “The national planning framework was drafted to ensure fit-for-purpose infrastructure and spaces for people, commerce and nature are created in future. Area plans… are intended to implement key objectives and offer area-specific variations to meet the needs of a particular district. Public engagement is a key part of the process and with the completion of the 7-Mile Corridor Plan, the next area plan being considered is George Town.”

Many local activists are currently campaigning for the protection of mangroves in the area. In addition, objections have been filed to many of the very dense subdivisions and apartment projects proposed for this area of George Town East, as well as to proposals by the previous government to re-zone this area from low density to high density residential, not least to accommodate a project by the government-owned National Housing and Development Trust.

But given that the housing trust owns a significant amount of land around George Town that is ready to develop and does not threaten critical habitat, the activists want government to take this public land and create a nature reserve.

Cabinet has yet to make the necessary change but given the PACT Government’s position on the environment, the re-zoning proposal may be reconsidered, paving the way for this solution.

There is great concern among environmentalists about the need to preserve the mangroves in the area, especially given the key role these wetlands play in the storm water drainage. For almost a decade the Department of Environment has been urging government to address the flooding problems that have been exacerbated by the continual clearance of mangroves.

Sustainable Cayman said the concept of a Mangrove Nature Park and Tarpon Alley Trail could also contribute to the storm water management solution. The idea is a nature-based approach to tackling climate resiliency, infrastructure needs, social development, education, health and well-being, tourism and science, the activists said in a release introducing the full policy document. They described it as a “project that puts the community, both young and old, at the centre of its ethos, showcasing our incredible biodiversity and providing a cornerstone project for the benefit of our citizens and visitors”.

The project includes a comprehensive plan for preserving the wetlands that includes a national park with nature trails and a bike corridor on block and parcel 20E-213REM3, which is currently held by the NHDT, and create a wildlife corridor either side of the proposed road with a 20ft setback of land to be reserved and reforested where applicable on each side of the road corridor. It also includes a mangrove retention policy to apply to all developments that sit within the South Sound drainage basin so projects must be designed around the mangroves.

The activists are proposing to partner with other local non-profits to finance the acquisition and conservation of the wetlands that sequester carbon and provide habitat and biodiversity co-benefits, which government and developers can use to offset their carbon footprints. Another element of the project is to change the requirements in the planning law relating to land set aside for public purpose. They want to see 20% of land set aside in larger developments that are in critical mangrove habitat. The project proposal includes a policy to prevent high density rezoning in the South Sound basin without an environmental impact assessment.

Martin Keeley, Programme Education Manager for the Cayman Islands Mangrove Rangers, said this was precisely the kind of integrated project Cayman needs.

“Not only does it help conserve critical mangrove habitat with all its ecological values, it also provides added natural benefits like wildlife corridors, a well established concept found through the world which will enable the species using mangroves to survive,” he added.

See the project proposal in the CNS Library.

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Comments (60)

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  1. Mangrove Danger says:

    Someone is filling in the pond in North Side across the road from the boat ramp. If it’s a Govt project, why are they using private equipment operators? If it’s private land did Govt approve?

  2. Ivan Victim says:

    When the sea came during Hurricane Ivan the mangrove barely held it at bay for Crewe Road and Fairbanks, because development had clear up to and past the storm ridge or line I tremble to think what it’s going to do now with the last functional barriers removed.Crewe road will become a deep water lagoon residents better up your insurance premiums and make sure your flood damage clause is added. You might want to add another storey to your house or make sure you on the second floor of apartment .

    • Anonymous says:

      The sea came from the North Sound to Crewe Rd. I watched it from my kitchen window. No amount of mangrove was going to stop it or slow it down.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I assume there will be a public right of way to access the trail through 21E 151 then?

  4. Anonymous says:

    This sounds amazing! We need many more green initiatives like this, this island has almost no safe greenspaces to walk in nature (especially if you live on the West side of GC). Hope they implement this and more, along with the required laws and policies and funding to make these kinds of initiatives sustainable.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Awesome #fact. Developers make money out of concrete not nature. Time for change.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t want developers to make money…?
      Or do you not want land prepared to meet housing needs for people like you..

  6. Anonymnous says:

    I like it. Creating belts of Mangrove areas rhyme with how they do conservation in Europe preserving interlinked swaths or belts of wild space that co-exist with development. My gripe is the wholesale blanketing of wetlands only assures that they will eventually be destroyed because nobody works to preserve what they can’t see, touch and appreciate, and what they perceive as being in the way of their own progress.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This might be the stupidest most nimby thing we have seen yet.

    • Anonymous says:

      what’s a nimby?

      • Anonymous says:

        NIMBY = Not In My Back Yard.

        AKA – Let me destroy and build, but you can’t…

        Sometimes it is very appropriate, often very detrimental.

    • Anonymous says:

      Depends on your perspective.

    • D. Truth says:

      @ Anonymous 8:22 pm;
      Your comment seems stupid to me, but I must not be very smart, myself…… .. I had to look up NIMBY. I had forgotten that it means, “Not in my backyard”. Everyone can have his own opinion, but I will disagree with your O.K. of any operation to destroy something useful just because it doesn’t please you! Get a life!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Perfect plan for a new bypass

    • Anonymous says:

      A road yes, bypass no. Close the existing road and let’s get this one built. It’s far too close to the sea now, as was proven by Ivan.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Include a bridle path in the plan!!!

  10. _||) says:

    The thumbnail made me initially think this was a plan a road and I honestly wasn’t even surprised.

  11. Anonymous says:

    WOW, sounds like a nerve was hit. Someone is really, really pushing ‘property owner rights, ‘developer’s rights’ and dissing anything remotely positive for our nature.

    Guess the moneygrubbers spent a few gold pieces to hire some trolls.

    • Anonymous says:

      Listen, I’m all for protecting nature and wetlands. But plenty of this specific land is not legally protected and it is zoned to be built on. People paid money based on that fact so that they can either build on it, or sell to a builder in the future who will build something on it.

      If you want to move the goalposts and say that this land can no longer be built on then that is ok with me…but all those landholders need to be compensated appropriately. That would include the value of the land currently and some other figure for the lost opportunity to profit off a development.

      Once you do that…the cost to protect this area would be millions and millions of dollars. And there’s frankly no way I can see that you could take land at that value from and owner and tell them they can’t build on it. If it was cheap and worthless to begin with maybe, but that land is highly valued. Rock and a hard place.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well stated and I agree with you.

        I was commenting on the obvious trolling to push the right to develop, when developers habitually do not follow the laws, and the legislature habitually looks the other way.

        Just because you can break the law, doesn’t mean you should.

        Just because you can develop the land, doesn’t mean you should.

        It’s a bitter pill to swallow when your plans are in contrast to logic, compassion, and care for the environment. BUT, those are not your interests are they! Your’s are $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

        And we can see the sad result of the path of Cayman.

        Can you develop – yup.
        Will you develop – yup.
        Should you develop – Sometimes not.

      • Townah says:

        The majority of the land in this planned design was never even purchased. At the time, swamp land was considered too costly to develop and all the land between SS and Linford Pierson was divvied out through the cadastral survey, granted to the nearest bordering land owners. Please don’t try to garner sympathy for the dozens of acres these landowners (or their parents) effectively inherited through no hardship of their own.

  12. satirony says:

    It’s time the Government established a National Conservation Plan, paid for by the EPF, a fund which was originally created to protect our shared environment and its unique wildlife.

    This fund has been raided over the years to pay for things unrelated to its original and legally mandated purpose, a result of past fiscal irresponsibility and lack of care. Without such a Conservation plan the current, outdated planning laws will guarantee that Cayman’s wild spaces will end up as a chaotic, environmental mess, with many species, ecosystems and areas of special beauty doomed to extinction. The Cayman Islands deserve so much better.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Frankly, it’s half-baked schemes like this that give us environmentalists a bad name. This proposal has not been thought through, not been socialized with any government authorities, and has been poorly executed using free internet programmes… Achieving real sustainability means having holistic solutions to complex problems. Our economy, society and environment are linked. If we want to replace a proposed road with a nature trail, we need a plan to address our traffic/transport issues. If we don’t want housing density, we need a plan for economic prosperity that doesn’t rely on population growth. If we want to turn off the construction jobs tap, we need to have a plan for all the students we are currently pushing into TVET careers.

    • Anonymous says:

      …did you work for government? seems what you are saying does not add up to what is reported

    • Anonymous says:

      feel free to present to government your own plan then, as these voters from the district have.

  14. Implement Sustainable Change says:

    Awesome plan, and definitely not sorry that ALT and the bunch at CPA won’t make their gravy off this one. If implemented this one deserves a Governor’s Award.

    Give them 1000% support and make these sustainable projects happen people. Let’s see if PACT honour the wish and aspirations of their constituents that voted for them.

  15. Anonymous says:

    As with proposed development, input is only relevant if it comes from surrounding and impacted property owners.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hilarious that they really believe they will be able to tell Mr.Thompson and Mr. Hislop what they can and can’t do with their land purchased for development.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Yes, nothing better than walking trails through smelly, uninteresting inland swamp land.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Drain the swamp!

  19. Anonymous says:

    This does sound like a great start. Logical, possible and would make a positive difference.

    …Therefore, it is doomed!

    (It would need Cayman Govt support; proper enforcement from future plans; and a hands-off influence from $$$$$ and developers).

  20. Anonymous says:

    Conveniently, just up the road from their large South Sound homes, built on developed former mangrove wetland.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some of them built off the back of the renowned as environmentally friendly cruise industry.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hurricane Ivan destroyed much of the coastal habitat along South Sound. Efforts to restore it failed so instead developers reclaimed the mangrove habitat with quarried stone…make sure to give credit where it is due.

    • Anonymous says:

      So what?

  21. Anonymous says:

    They should either purchase the land or mind their own business.

  22. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like the start of something that could be quite popular.
    And sounds amazing!!!

    I know a lot of people will get behind this. Let’s hope the ones that matter and can make it happen will too.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds amazing because your property will not be impacted …sick of these tree huggers making decisions about other people’s property , at no expense or inconvenience to themselves.

      • Anonymous says:

        Personally I would LOVE a trail nearby even if it buffers on my property.
        There are SO many places around the world that incorporate land preserves within neighborhoods.
        I genuinely do not see the problem with that. You have to have landscaping anyway, why not incorporate that?

        I guess I am not seeing same vision as the naysayers.

    • Anonymous says:

      In theory this sounds fabulous. But again explain to me how anyone can afford to put money into this sort of project when we are probably on the eve of a recession. Shouldn’t that be going into the many, many persons that are here without food, can’t afford light bills or water bills. The environment is important but so are lives.

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