Conservation consultation is important opportunity

| 10/02/2022 | 23 Comments
Cayman News Service
Meagre Bay Pond

(CNS): The National Conservation Council is inviting members of the community to nominate natural areas for potential preservation. This period of public consultation allows a fresh perspective to consider land that could be protected for future generations.

The National Conservation Law provides a mechanism for preserving important natural habitats through the voluntary purchase of land or through conservation agreements with landowners, and the invitation for the public to nominate special places fosters a wider community engagement in conservation.

NCC Chair McFarlane Conolly said the public consultation is an important exercise for the community and a genuine opportunity for the people to let the government know how this country speaks to their hearts.

“The public consultation process can sometimes be exclusionary since not everyone may have an opinion on a proposed law or framework, but protected lands is something I think nearly everyone can relate to since the natural spaces in our beautiful Islands command such a deep sense of national pride,” he said. “The Council is looking forward to learning about new areas for consideration.”

Conolly encouraged everyone to think about a specific area in Cayman that has significance to them. “There are many areas we don’t know about, so having the community tell us what they love and why helps us make informed recommendations to government,” he said.

“It might be a mangrove wetland in your neighbourhood that you pass on your evening walk or it might be a stretch of beach or dry forest that you visited as a child. No matter how big or small, if there’s an area that you deeply feel should be preserved for future generations, then please submit your nomination to the NCC,” Conolly said.

Gina Ebanks-Petrie, the director of the Department of Environment, said that preserving our important natural assets is an investment in the long-term health of the country and its people.

“Having a properly planned and managed system of protected areas will ensure that our natural environment continues to provide habitats for our native wildlife and biodiversity, that it is also able to continue providing a range of critical ecosystem services, including the maintenance of life support systems like clean water and air and that our children, great-grandchildren and beyond can share some of the same nature-based experiences that we have today, even as our Islands change and grow around us,” she said.

From beaches to wetlands, there are many beautiful sites as well as ones that support endangered species in Cayman that remain under threat from the bulldozer. The only way to prevent development and preserve the rapidly dwindling natural environment is for the land to be acquired and preserved under the law.

The current consultation period will last until 13 May and members of the public can make their suggestions in writing to the NCC describing the area in as much detail as possible with an idea of its boundaries.

People are asked to provide a statement outlining the reasons why the area should be selected, such as the habitat provides or it is an environment for a rare or protected plant or a species of special concern. It might be an area that provides a location for migrating birds or an ecosystem that is unique or fast disappearing.

The NCC is helping to slowly increase what was previously only a tiny percentage of protected land in the Cayman Islands. While Cayman has been relatively effective at securing protection for its marine resources, it has been far less successful at getting important terrestrial habitat formally protected. Right now, only around 7% of land across all three Cayman Islands is protected under the law but the NCC has a target of around 20%.

The most recent land to become formally protected with a management plan to secure its future is Meagre Bay Pond in Bodden Town. A 300-foot wide band of mangroves around its margin was originally protected as an Animal Sanctuary in 1976.

It provides a significant migration point for large feeding aggregations of herons and egrets and other migrating birds and is home to a wide range of resident birds. But although it has been designated a protected area for some 35 years, no management plan for the area has ever been implemented until now.

While the pond remains under threat from the surrounding quarries, the new plan will enable the DoE to provide appropriate public access to view birds on the pond, to restore the black mangrove forest and the natural patterns of seasonal flooding and dry-down that have been compromised by the quarrying.

It also seeks to resolve conflicts inherent in the original designation of some privately owned land within the protected area through a combination of land purchases, conservation agreements and zoning.

Several other important pieces of land and inland water, including Booby Pond on Little Cayman, Hemmington Forest on Cayman Brac, parts of the Central Mangrove Wetlands and Lower Valley forest on Grand Cayman have been designated as protected areas over the last five years under the National Conservation Law.

Questions about conservation and nominations should be sent to the NCC at ConservationCouncil@gov.ky

Part 3 of the National Conservation Act – “Conservation of Land” provides a complete explanation of the purpose, objectives and criteria for nominations.


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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (23)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Are they taking the Pi$$?

  2. Anonymous says:

    My sister in law and myself nominated 100 acres in Central Mangrove 2-3 years ago and no-one from their office even called me or emailed me yet. Its next to 2 quarries. 40 million dollars in the National Conservation group? Yep nothing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Una know that writing “I nominate” on this news article doesn’t actually nominate anything, right?
    Put real pen to real paper (or email). Otherwise its not going to happen. Which I suppose is what some people want.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Matilde Ponds – Patricks Island and North Sound Estates mangroves.

  5. Mumbichi says:

    I nominate the entirety of East end bluff top of Cayman Brac with it’s spiky rock and cactus and thatch and frangipani and boobies and such. Yeah. I thought that would get your attention.

    This land has always been clear, and kind of a testament to the character of the people. It’s a monument of stone. To put a residence, let alone a hotel on this would be an irreversible crime. I think this is one of the few pure important Caymanian vistas that are left.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I nominate Meagre Bay Pond (well known large bird sanctuary), Betty’s Bay Pond, Owen’s Island (Little Cayman Cay) and South Sound Cay.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I nominate the fish market. Lots of native wild animals .

    • Anonymous says:

      I nominate the properties where the new west bay police station and the new medical facility in west bay will be. Start there….oops! Already being destroyed….for future $$$$

  8. Anonymous says:

    I nominate the dump, a monument to Cayman incompetence.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I nominate the Cayman Islands. All three of them.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh please. How about we reverse all the destruction of the wetlands that were on west bay road??!! Where all these borders day so-called environmentalist now live.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Too bad there wasn’t “consultation” when all the mangroves on the WB peninsula was being destroyed. Oh, I forgot, that was swamp.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I am nominating all the land in the Panton family name.

  13. Heritage and Culture site destroyer anyone says:

    I wonder what exactly is going to happen when they pick or identify a piece of our resident land Godfather strategic land holdings ooooooooh then we shall see the political and social Floor mechanics simmy dimmy Political brinkmanship with the minister and trusted advisor being shuttle to and frow a big old buying and selling influence Gig . Who says we nah livin large

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ll pretend that you asked in earnest. If someone nominates land, then it is evaluated for whether or not it is a worthwhile site. If it is, the landowner is approached to see if they want to sell. If they don’t want to sell, then it doesn’t become a protected area. No land can be taken from someone without their permission.

      If a landowner doesn’t want to sell, but does want the land to be protected, they can sign a conservation agreement. This means the land is protected by the law but still owned by a private individual. It could be a way to get some protection on old family land, without it changing hands.

      • Anonymous says:

        This has been the case for decades. However, who would want to limit the potential on their own land?

        Once it’s protected, you can’t do anything with it. Does not make sense.

        Suppose your children or grandchildren need to build a residence on it. If so, you just made life worse for you or your family.

        We really need to tax non-Caymanians for land and limit the amount of land mass that can be purchased.

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