Protection of five wetland habitats approved

| 08/03/2022 | 31 Comments

(CNS): A selected number of wetland areas across the Cayman Islands are to be placed under formal protection following Cabinet’s recent approval of National Conservation Council recommendations relating to five locations that are home to mangroves and other threatened habitats.

Protected Area Orders have been made for Sand Cay, the Western Mangrove Cays extension, and a piece of the southwest Central Mangrove Wetland on Grand Cayman, as well as Tarpon Lake and the East Interior of Little Cayman.

These areas are all critical habitats and represent the type of mangrove and other wetland that is being lost across the Cayman Islands at an alarming rate. Most of the parcels are already owned by the crown or in private hands where the landowners have agreed to the protection order.

Even though all mangroves are now a protected species, with planning permission they can still be removed from private land. Despite the best efforts of the Department of Environment to encourage developers and the Central Planning Authority to preserve them, acres of wetlands are still being lost every month.

However, these five protection orders will ensure that at least these particularly sensitive pieces of wetland and the myriad species and wildlife that grow and live in them will be preserved in perpetuity.

Sand Cay, which is a very small islet in South Sound, is already owned by the crown and requires no complex conservation management plan. The protection order will simply enable the DoE to conserve the area, which is home to a least tern breeding colony and the target of the order.

The two areas of mangroves are owned by the crown and private landowners, but again, no complex management plans will be required. Long recognised as a vital environmental asset for the Cayman Islands, the Central Wetlands provide essential eco-services of substantial social and economic value.

The remaining areas of mangrove in the west and the shallow seagrass beds along the North Sound side of the Seven Mile Beach corridor are particularly sensitive as this habitat has been greatly reduced and fragmented due to development.

“The ever-increasing importance of what remains of these habitats includes provision of precious fish nursery habitat, exporting nutrients into the North Sound, filtration of water and protection against storm waves,” the DoE said in the original nomination documents.

On Little Cayman, Tarpon Lake and a small adjacent coastal mangrove parcel, both owned by the crown, is home to tarpons and a wide range of resident and migratory waterbirds.

Fiddler crabs abound on exposed mudflats, and white land crabs burrow near the interface between mangroves and adjacent dry land. This specific wetland complex is unique within Little Cayman in that it never dries out, and so it is biologically highly productive year-round.

The only established point of entry to Tarpon Lake is a boardwalk, which has been restored and maintained by the government and is used for recreational tarpon fishing. A management plan for Tarpon Lake will deal with the maintenance of the boardwalk and the regulation of entry into the pond. The DoE said that as nature tourism in Little Cayman develops, it is expected that this area will remain a key site of interest for visitors.

The final parcel in the interior of the east end of Little Cayman, together with a crown-owned pond adjacent to it, was described by the DoE as a “mosaic of dry shrubland, large inland ponds, and buttonwood wetlands”.

Much of the area is inaccessible, which means it may contain more rare and endangered species than we currently know about, the experts at the DoE said.

See all of the conservation nominations for these sites on the NCC website here.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Nothing in the Brac?

  2. This is a good move by govt to save and protect mangroves etc for future generations.Now if we only get mangroves fully protected then that would be a big step in the right direction.I recently saw a demonstration of a trough of water with mangroves at far end and a wave generation machine pushing waves to and through the mangroves.On other side of same flat calm.A rough demonstration of how waves actually get stopped by mangroves.THEY DO WORK TO SAVE OUR SHORELINES

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cat, bird, mosquito does it matter?

    Let’s get that concrete poured and those high rise apartments built asap. There’s money to be made bobo

  4. Anonymous says:

    Nice. Well done.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Blah blah blah…no policing…hey mark..go by lobster pot every saturday aroubd 10 to 12 in morning..u will see a jamaican guy on work permit cleaning tons of doctor fish..squab..old wives…undersized fish…i observed him last saturday cleaning them…spoke up to tell him it was illegal and hadda run for my life!

    • Anonymous says:

      11:52 There’s no law that says people on work permits cant fish. As long as they stay out of marine parks and stay within size limits it’s not against the law. I don’t necessarily agree that expats should be able to fish our local resources but you would have one hell of a job enforcing it if it ever became law.. my 10 cents

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually it is against the law – unless a non-Caymanian is fishing from a boat in more than 20′ of water they have to practice catch-and-release.

      • Peter Milburn says:

        Just add it to their work permit with no exceptions.Its the only way we can save for future generations.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Would be nice if a palm tree grew back on Sand Cay

    • Anonymous says:

      Palm trees are technically not a local plant. Sand Cay is actually better off without vegetation. It is a natural breeding ground for a variety of seabirds (predominantly Terns). The more open space they have the better for breeding. No trees required 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        Sand Cay historically had vegetation (coconut trees and “Jennifer” shrub plants). Each passing hurricane damaged the growth until its current state. Also, Least terns rotate breeding grounds across grand cayman.

        • Anonymous says:

          1. And the sites to breed decrease every year.
          2. Natural revegetation will occur no need for interference.

  7. Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      11:18 Lobby Feline friends and the humane society and ask them to back down on their court case. They are challenging DOE’s efforts to implement the cat cull on the sister islands which is slowing down the implementation..

      • Anonymous says:

        A cat cull is wrong.

        • Anonymous says:

          Relative to the forced extinction of rare local flora and fauna? At this stage it is the lack of a cat cull that is wrong.

          • D. Truth says:

            Yes. Cats are not native to the Cayman Islands. The main reason that make cats unsuited to roam wild on the Cayman Islands is that cats kill smaller creatures for food, but often kill them for no apparent reason. Apparently they kill for fun… or some reason I am unaware of. Cats should NEVER be allowed to run wild.

        • Anonymous says:

          But a chicken cull is right

          • Anonymous says:

            Chickens are a pest but the environmental damage they create quails in comparison to that feral cats cause on local bird and reptile populations. I love cats but they are little murder machines. Keep them inside and I’m afraid the ferral’s in the sister islands need to be ‘removed’.

    • Anonymous says:

      Time to stop pussyfooting around the issue and get on with the cull.

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