$250k raised for Trust to buy a slice of primary forest

| 03/04/2024 | 44 Comments
Cayman News Service
Mastic Trail (file photo courtesy of the National Trust)

(CNS): A local couple hosted a private fundraising dinner for the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and raised a quarter of a million US dollars, which will go towards acquiring a piece of primary forest identified by the Trust. While this is the largest-ever contribution to the Land Reserve Fund, it is still only enough to cover half the cost of this particular piece of land.

The event was organised and hosted by Karen and Chris Luijten, who covered all the expenses of the dinner, including flying in two chefs from Positano, Italy. It was held on Friday, 2 February, at the Luijten’s South Sound home.

Cayman is losing pristine natural habitat to development at an unprecedented rate, but across the Cayman Islands, around 12% of land is either formally protected by the National Conservation Law or owned by the Trust.

The land the NTCI wants to acquire is in the eastern half of Grand Cayman, an area that includes more diversity than the developed western side of the island, with many plants and animals not seen elsewhere. Given that the land is for sale, it is at risk of development, the Trust said.

“These include a variety of birds, including the endemic Cayman Bullfinch, many animals, including endemic blue iguanas, a host of local trees, including the historically significant ironwood and silver thatch, and possibly other species as yet unknown to science,” said NTCI Executive Director Frank Roulstone.

“In the face of overwhelming destruction of natural areas for development, our ability to purchase even the smallest parcel gives a little more space to these natural treasures to survive and continue to provide health benefits, clean air and water to ourselves and future generations. Sadly, as things stand in Cayman today, any privately owned land, regardless of its ecological value, is in danger of development while it remains on the open market,” Roulstone added.

The Land Reserve Fund was established in 2010 to buy and protect environmentally sensitive land. That land is then protected under the National Trust for the Cayman Islands Law to preserve critical natural habitats and the species they support in perpetuity.

The Land Reserve Fund was established in 2010 to buy and protect environmentally sensitive land. That land is then protected under the National Trust for the Cayman Islands Law to preserve critical natural habitats and the species they support in perpetuity.

NTCI Environmental Programme Manager Catherine Childs explained that the non-profit is aiming to help reach the goal of ’30 by 30′, a global initiative to designate 30% of the earth’s land and oceans as protected areas by 2030 in the face of biodiversity loss around the planet. “We would like to see Cayman in the vanguard of countries meeting this target with the National Trust playing a key role in preserving our natural treasures for future generations.”

With the price of land skyrocketing in Cayman and the government often using the land it acquires to create parks or recreation areas and car parking instead of preserving natural habitat intact, the goal of protecting 30% of pristine habitat within the next six years will not be easy.

Melanie Carmichael, chair of the National Trust Board of Directors, said the non-profit recognises the need to appeal for philanthropic donations. “We currently protect 6% of Cayman’s natural environment, and we’d like to increase that amount to 11% across all three islands,” she said. “Together with the health and wellness benefits they provide to the community, these goals are vitally important as we strive to protect and sustain our environment for future generations.”

She said the success of this private event was an indication that the community cares. However, the Trust now needs to raise the other half to acquire the land and is appealing to those in a position to help to make a donation to the Land Reserve Trust.


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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (44)

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  1. Elvis says:

    Should have had a curry at sunset house and saved the flight and chef and food money then they would be at 500k right?

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  2. Anonymous says:

    There is a plot of land more than 50 acres on the Cayman Brac bluff which should be purchased for posterity. It is in Spotland. It is ROUGH. Still, it is landlocked and the owners will likely rush to a reasonable bid.

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  3. anon says:

    When are Caymanians going to contribute in a meaningful way?.

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    • Anonymous says:

      We are contributing, with our fees, fines, duties and licences.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Pity we never had to worry about saving the land until the exploiters showed up.

      https://caymannewsservice.com/2023/09/landowner-puts-conservation-ahead-of-condos/

      So that gesture isn’t meaningful, or you only recognize the efforts of expats and new Caymanians ?

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      • anon says:

        10.13pm Your “gesture” was in fact a sale of lqnd to the Trust, not an outright donation which so many expats have made either by transfer of land or cash. Furthermore Mr Whorms “land” was mostly mangrove swamp and he had been denied planning permission to develop it.This in fact was self serving as it is difficult to sell mangrove swamp.

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        • Air Boater says:

          The swamplands and marshes of south Florida cannot be developed either, but that does not mean preserving them is self-serving.

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          • anon says:

            Air boater you miss the point, selling the swamp rather than donating it as a gift, is self serving.

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      • Anonymous says:

        There was an article about the sale by Mr. Whorms. Same as an article now. How do you think no recognition was given to Mr. Whorms?

        (plus he sold the land…didn’t donate it)

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      • reality says:

        It was swamp, no planning permission and the only buyer was the National Trust.

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    • Anonymous says:

      So you are saying that zero Caymanians (new or generational) attended this event and contributed? How are you so sure? How were the attendees selected?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Rather than applaud this great contribution, you’d rather celebrate your prejudices. What have YOU contributed?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Such as turning away ungrateful individuals with a false sense of superiority at the border? I agree, far too late for that so consider yourself lucky.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Funny you never hear about these philanthropic works being organized by the well known and wealthy local surnames.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Someone should ask one of the prominent founding members who is the MP for Cayman Brac West/Little Cayman. $250k is a drop in the bucket for this person.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Or you could donate it if it’s that important to you personally.

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      • Anonymous says:

        It’s not funny… it’s obvious to this of us who are Caymanian.

        Prominent wealthy locals do donate and have done so for decades. But they don’t advertise it in press releases or social media because they are genuinely giving to help and not looking for praise.

        Also… they don’t need the points.

        It’s sad that so many readers of CNS are expats who detest Caymanians so much. Life has never been so good for them but it would be better if this island didn’t have any Caymanians on it. You harp on any negative article and paint broad brush to say that it is all Caymanians and anything positive can never be a Caymanian.

        We have some lovely expats here. I’ve spoken to many who want to protect our island as much as many locals do. But the fact remains – we are over developing our island not for locals but for more expats.

        Expats need more housing.
        Expats need more beach views.
        Expats need more cars.
        Expats need more roads.
        Expats need more office space.
        Expats need more instagram-worthy bars and restaurants to network.
        Expats need more nanny’s because family is too far away for support.
        Expats Nannies need a car to pick up the kids.

        The CI Government needs expats because the work permit fees are lucrative.

        Caymanians love our natural beaches minus higglers and high rises but ignorant people vote in ignorant MLAS who get bought out by greedy rich people looking to attract more harmful expats who:
        – can’t drive safely;
        – can’t truly do the job they claim to be so good at;
        – can’t ever seem to make one Caymanian friend (dispute being so well-travelled and open-minded);
        – can’t handle the truth.

        If I could afford land on my own island to that scale of which wealthy foreigners have, I would happily donate some of it. But I do my small part and donate my very small amount to local organizations. It’s not much but it’s the best I can do.

        But to your original “point” – wealthy locals do in fact donate… with out seeking acknowledgment.

        On a positive note – I and thousands of Caymanians) are very grateful to the couple who helped raise this money for the Trust.

        Thank you for helping.

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    • anon says:

      2.34pm We are talking about preservation of land/natural habitat for the benefit of future generations, what are you talking about?.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I think they do give, but they just don’t shout about it. Many Caymanians in Cayman follow what the Bible says about giving without seeking reward or praise. Speaking personally, I give without letting anyone know I have given.

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    • anon says:

      2.34pm You are right but we are talking specifically about preserving land in it’s present state, not building churches or setting up charities.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So what are the National Trust doing about the illegal removal of primary habitat off the Queen’s Highway?

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    • Anonymous says:

      National Trust would buy it and protect it if they could. Your complaint is with the DOE, who is tasked with protecting our woodlands.

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      • Anonymous says:

        “The National Trust for the Cayman Islands was established in 1987 with the purpose to preserve natural environments and places of historic significance for present and future generations of the Cayman Islands.”

        My complaint, in this instance, is with the National Trust. They don’t get a free pass to pick and chose what is convenient for them to fight.

        The DOE is however equally at fault.

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      • Anonymous says:

        How is the DOE at fault? They do the best they can with the limited budget they have. Most land in Cayman is privately owned. It can’t just be seized for the sake of conservation. The DOE and the national trust do not have the allocated money to buy all land that needs protecting. Also, much of the runaway construction is objected to by the DOE only for CPA to completely ignore their advice. If you have issues with this bring it up with your elected politicians.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Is it actually illegal or do you wish it was illegal? The DoE/NCC have ZERO remit unless it is within or adjacent to a protected area. Private property development is all under the CPA and we know how that turns out!

      We all wish the National Conservation Council were as respected as any other government agency but “some people” with a certain amount of power don’t want any accountability to the future of our country.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Illegal clearing? That’s Planning, not the National Trust (or even the DoE). Better email Planning and your MP, the CoP (police can also enforce the Planning Act) and the Anti-Corruption Commission / Governor’s Office to ask what is being done about the illegal action.

      And coming back on this thread to complain that Planning et al will not do anything when they legally could so there’s no use complaining, when you just complained instead about people who legally can’t do anything, well, that will just prove you don’t actually want anything to change. You know where it is (more than the rest of us on here anonymously) and that it is illegal, so you have to be the one to do something about it. Click below.

      https://www.planning.ky/code-compliance

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      • Anonymous says:

        No, illegal removal of primary habitat. Try learning to read before trying to make excuses for those charged with its protection.

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        • Anonymous says:

          What law says removal of primary habitat is illegal?

          Clearing may be legal or illegal, depending if it has a permit. Removal of primary habitat (as if it is being removed other by clearing) is not illegal. Only the underlying Planning-regulated action of clearing.

          It seems you are more interested in blaming certain groups you don’t like than in trying to address an actual problem.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Hey numpty, either follow the remit of whichever of the non performing entities you represent or resign. It’s not that difficult.

          • B. Affled says:

            was there permission for the removal of primary habitat for the North Side Low Income housing project? can’t find it anywhere in the planning history? oh never- mind that’s in North Side…The home of New Honorable Minister.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile, successive CI Cabinets have successfully raided with unchecked discretion, decades of passenger tax contributions to Environmental Protection Fund, for tens of millions to fill it’s budget holes – none of those funds going towards its originating purpose. Appalling.

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