Campaign starts to get public behind habitat protection

| 22/03/2022 | 8 Comments
Cayman News Service
Wild banana orchids in bloom (Photo by Nick Johnson)

(CNS): Local environmental activist group Sustainable Cayman has started a social media campaign to spread awareness about the National Conservation Council’s recent call for nominations for Protected Areas across the Cayman Islands. In a press release, the group said that they wanted to ensure that everyone knows about this opportunity and to encourage people to take action towards protecting the natural areas that they love.

“Public participation is key to helping the NCC decide which areas should be protected. It is also a right granted to citizens under section 9 of the National Conservation Law (NCL),” the non-profit organisation said.

Sustainable Cayman has created a Facebook group page, 2022 NCC Nominations, to give people a place to ask questions, share concerns and discuss areas they think should be preserved. There is also a short video explaining how they can start their own proposals.

“Individuals are encouraged to get family and friends to sign each proposal document to show that there is substantial support for that particular area,” the activists added.

The NCC opened the nomination process in February and the window of opportunity remains open until mid-May to suggest a natural habitat to be designated for protection through the purchase of lands or conservation agreements with landowners.

Areas to be nominated are ones that the nominators see as important to the country’s ecological integrity, are places of natural beauty or for one reason or another should be saved from the threat of the bulldozer. Nominators are asked to provide a statement outlining the reasons why the area should be selected, such as the habitat it provides in general for a protected plant or a species of special concern, or an ecosystem that is unique or fast disappearing.

Recently additional areas of the Central Mangrove Wetlands and some mangrove cays off the North Sound coast of West Bay, all of which influence temperature, produce rainfall and oxygen and provide many other services, were designated by Cabinet as protected areas after going through the nomination process. This safeguarded at least some biodiversity and quality of life for residents.

Areas that are currently awaiting approval are additions to the Hemmington Forrest and the East Lighthouse Park in Cayman Brac, as well as another slice of the Central Mangrove Wetland, and more of the Lower Valley Forrest and Salina Reserve.

But there are many more pieces of natural land that have no protection, and with plans to push the East-West Arterial Road all the way to Frank Sound, more and more critical untouched primary habitat remains under threat.

Proposals should be submitted to by 13 May.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A single meeting’s worth of CPA decisions this week demonstrated that developers still own the CPA and will counter ecological considerations whenever they can – even when they don’t need to. The environment will continue to take a back seat to developer ambitions so long as the wrong people remain at the levers of decision making, while updated laws, regulations, standards, and oversight that might alter that, remain frozen in disregarded unactioned draft folders. It would be nice if the public could line up behind the remainder of PACT that are still trying to move the needle against 30 years of corruption.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The concept that the Cayman Islands will ever have meaningful protection of the natural environment deserves belly laughs. We have laws on the books now that are not being enforced, or, are being selectively enforced. According to a previous CNS article dated 4 January 2022, it seems that the Brac owner–without proper planning permission– mechanically cleared and skimmed off the shallow rock overlay of a parcel of land against the Bluff on the south side of the island was singled out and was was notified that he illegally ripped up the bush and foliage that has been cleared. Clearly, that owner also needs to apply for permission to excavate as the work that he undertook falls under the definition of excavation in the applicable Planning Regulations. Now someone has done the same thing on a far, far larger scale on a parcel of seafront beach ridge land on the north shore of Cayman Brac near Sarah’s Turn. The land has been mechanically cleared and a substantial amount of beach rock and sand from the beach ridge and foreshore have been removed. They leveled the beach ridge and used the fill to make a driveway and fill the lowland interior. All without making an application for proper planning permission for such excavation and relocation of the material. An application for the excavation work is still not on record. Planning permission for the proposed residential project is approved, but such permission covers only clearing of the building area and ancillary development and does not give permission for the massive damage done to the beach ridge. You can see from the sea that the excavation of the beach ridge was extensive and across the entire width of the property. In some areas the beach ridge elevation was reduced by more than four feet. Nothing has apparently been done about this flagrant violation of the law as you can see as you pass by in a boat that building works have apparently started. The driveway connects to the public road and is also clearly seen in passing. How can the planning officer and members of the Board on the Brac not be aware of this violation of the law? The two cases in point are ample evidence that enforcement of laws and regulations is selective and pathetically lax. Before the government and activists try to get more environmentally protective laws passed, I strongly suggest that they move to enforce the ones on the books now!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Matilde Pond and surrounding trails/paths and North Sound Estates mangroves please.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Does any of this nominated land exist on the WB peninsula?! Asking for a friend.

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