Wildlife spot under threat

| 05/05/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline news, Cayman wildlife(CNS): In answer to a recent parliamentary question by the independent representative Ezzard Miller, on behalf of constituents who had been refused planning permission, the government has revealed it is no longer seeking a buffer zone to protect Malportas Pond in North Side. As a result, local developers could now be allowed to build up to the banks of the water, threatening a host of local wildlife including the vulnerable West Indian Whistling Ducks (left). Miller was told by the premier that the government was no longer seeking to acquire the buffer and that any applications that had been refused in the pond area in the past may now receive “a willing ear” from planning. (Photo courtesy of the National Trust)

McKeeva Bush told the Legislative Assembly last week that the buffer plan had been as a result of a request from the Department of the Environment to protect the pond from run-off but gave no reason why the government has decided it would no longer be taking the DoE’s advice to protect what is considered by many as a crucial wildlife eco-system.
 
With no environmental protection in Cayman from development, the DoE has had to use land acquisition to fight a losing battle to preserve Grand Cayman’s dwindling natural resources. Given the importance of Malportas pond to hundreds of wetland bird species, not least the Whistling Duck, the DoE had advised government to try and acquire land around the area to create a three hundred foot buffer zone to protect the future of the pond, which government owns, and the wildlife using it.
 
According to information from the DoE, run-off was only one of the threats to the future of this wildlife area.  Research conducted by the department revealed that, as more subdivisions were being planned, it was clear the connected wetland area was under severe threat, which is where a host of birds feed and nest.
 
The buffer would have controlled the run-off of nutrients, sediment and other potential contaminants from developed properties, which can contribute to eutrophication- -excessive plant growth from nutrients and general pollution of the pond. The protected zone would also have provided a functional area of habitat for birds and other wildlife currently existing there.
 
It would have maintained flood protection services and natural storm water management for surrounding properties and provided a physical barrier to reduce disturbance of wildlife (especially waterfowl). Aside from retaining the aesthetic value of the pond through preservation of natural fringing vegetation, the DoE said it would have moderated the impact of development on the established ecosystem and diversity of native flora, both wetland and shrubland species.
 
Although there are no set guidelines from experts on the size of buffer zones to protect wetlands, the DoE had undertaken comparative research work with areas applicable to the conditions of Malportas Pond, such as Florida, which has similar vegetation communities.  
 
Buffer zones vary in size and nature depending upon the specific purpose for which they are created but the minimum buffers in order to protect just the pond would be around 200 feet, and in order to attempt to protect the full area the buffer would need to be over 650feet. The DoE had recommended the 300 feet zone with the hope of mitigating the impact on the surrounding wetland and hopefully saving the pond and associated wildlife.
 
With no restrictions now on development, this important bird habitat is at risk. For many years local farmer William (Willie) Ebanks has devoted enormous time and effort to aiding the recovery of the West Indian Whistling Duck, Cayman’s only native duck, which is a vulnerable species. Starting with a pair of ducks and seven chicks in 1990, Ebanks now supports over 500 wild Whistling Ducks.
 
The pond is also an important site for hundreds of herons, egrets, moorhens, and coots, as well as osprey and even peregrine falcons in the winter months. The pond, which could now be changed irrevocably or lost altogether, was an important natural area which until very recently was surrounded by largely undisturbed land.

Vote in the CNS online poll: Are you in favour of a conservation law?

Category: Headline News

Comments (47)

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  1. whodatis says:

    @ Sadler / "Oh please stop"

    Have you taken a look outside lately?

    Do you not see what every capitalist, western, "first world", super-nation (USA, UK, Germany, Spain, France etc.) is experiencing economically at this very moment.

    Seriously – how ignorant, blind and uninformed are your words?!

    Actually, yours is the very mindset desired and required by our currently elected members of government.

    Thank God you don’t speak for the majority of us Caymanians.

  2. Anonymous says:

    In response to "Oh please stop" my comment is that development is very possible and entirely achievable without destroying the environment so please bring your opinions into line with the 21st Century before you try to be sarcastic and show your lack of understanding.

    • Anon says:

      Well if you are Sadler, I can’t say its too clear to me either.  From reading your previous response I am not surprised at all at what Whodatis says.  Go back and reread your own post.  Tell me where you made reference to any of this before now?

  3. Anonymous says:

    We want our Oversized Civil Service !

    We want our Oversized Politicians !

    We want our Oversized Hospital !

    We want our Oversized Houses !

    We want our Oversized SUVs !

    We want our Oversized Bellys full !

     

    And we want to pay nothing for it !

     

    Get real

  4. sadler says:

    Oh please stop!

    This Hospital is important for our economy – it will put food on our plates!  I don’t care quack about ducks, bush, ponds, and everything else. Money is power!  And if you don’t got money, you don’t got nothin!  Money run things! We want a better economy. We want this and that… well… you have to make some sacrifices.

    XXXX

  5. Anonymous says:

     Is this the direction( destroying all our natural resources, habitat  and areas which support  the birds and animals and plants of the Cayman Islands)  the majority of the people of the Cayman Islands wish to go in, or is it the decision of  a few  landowners backed by politicians who care only about  money and popularity, who shortsightedly  are looking for short term gain, without understanding that including areas of natural beauty in their developments  and protecting the natural resources which  support wildlife and humans, would  increase the value of the remaining land ten times over.  It is also about our own survival also, for if we kill all the animals and birds and trees, we will irrevocably alter the climate  and  our ability to sustain ourselves.

     

      Sustainable development means just that…working with the natural environment  rather than against it (by destroying everything in the path of the bulldozers).    Isn’t it time for developers to travel to other countries to see the best examples of  sustainable development where respect for and protection of  the earth  and all  animals, including humans,  and plants  which it supports   is  the guiding principal and consideration and concern?  With that might come the understanding that some land just should not be altered by humans, but left to do  what it was created to do and has been doing for thousands of years/

     

    After hearing about the disaster of the BP oil  spill in the gulf and all the human and wildlife implications ,  surely  we should be scared enough to wake up and change our priorities.

     

    I do not know if the constitution allows or a national referendum on significant developments, but this , the Shetty hospital development , the port etc etc seem like things we should all have a say in approving or disapproving and that prior to that we should have all the plans clearly laid out so we know exactly what is being proposed and where it  would be located.

     

    Yes pass the Conservation Bill, but go back to the original draft before various politicians  had their go at removing any teeth it might have had. 

  6. Delroy Kelleck says:

    Get Up. Stand Up, Fellow Caymanians.

    What foolishness. Our Premier may not care about whistling ducks and Cayman’s environment but more and more of us do and we starting to see how we are sold down the river.

    Something needs to be done to save Malportas. I bet the Premier has never even been up there. Maybe if it was a West Bay pond he would care.

    Only a year in and I seriously regret voting UDP.

     Roll on 2013 – if poor Cayman can survive that long.

  7. Anonymous says:

    As all know, Arden blew out the  the inaugural Nat Cons Law last year; Chuckie immediately backed back down because Arden is more senior politically. In Cayman, seniority is everything, never mind how valid the proposal. The draft Law has since been watered down (even further) under the development-friendly UDP. Ezzard’s influential half dozen voters (landowners) are certainly not in favour of an NC Law. He ignores the majority foreign property owners in North Side (they cant vote), as well as  the more important national and international interest.

    Amongst traditional voters there is undeniably fundamental opposition to an NC Law. The crude selfish reason given is generally…"Caymanians are easy going, but mess with our land or our women and….". Just like conch, lobster & turtle poaching, the answer is long term education, but our MLA’s treat the Nat Cons Law as the short term vote loser they believe it to be. But do we expect our politicians to be custodians of the future for the country…. or simply reflect short term local influential voter opinion? Unfortunately,  we all know the answer….

    Cayman Politicians: like all other democracies you have local constituents… but also national responsibilities. If there is a conflict, what is nore important? Only a true political leader of men will pick their country ahead of their voters.

     

     

    • Say what you all want to say with out knowing the truth, Ezzard is only trying to protect what was and still is North Side people’s land. If you all heard the comments that the people from the department of enviroment and some of the govt officials Mr Tibbetts and Alden had to say at the community meetings that night two years ago it would break  your hearts. A man had a piece of property cleared near the pond to build a house and have a nice back yard, after the DOE would take their 300Ft the man had about 25-30 Ft left. So what to do, give the 25-30 ft to govt. No one thought of paying these land  owners a fair price for their land, just take it from them.

      All of these whistling ducks were not there before Mr. Ebanks started feeding them. My point is, unless you feel the pain keep your comments to your selves.

      Mr.Miller represents more than a half dozen voters as you keep posting here, you are evidently hot behind the ears because you didnt get what you so desperately wanted. Ezzard, support and represent your peolpe, show them what a good representitive is made of, Guts and Stamina, you are not led by the UDP or PPM speak loud and bold for us.We love you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Jim Bodden’s unplanned, unbridled, arrogant, greedy development policies all over again! Same reason, to jump-start the economy. We’re just seeing the true effects of that now; imagine this place in the next 30 years??? God help that generation. 

  9. moh and moh says:

    We nah need no stinkin buffa…bring on da dollas

  10. bradley says:

    Now I’m cheering for a payroll tax!  The eastern end of the Island is the only country we have left!  If we cut that down for revenue that will not only effect our whistling ducks but our weather! The trees attract rain, and if you get rid of the trees, what natural beauty will be left for tourist to see.

    I guess the politicians will just bring PALM TREES (sick of them now) to replace the native ones. What a disaster to our natural tourism product

    • Anon says:

      The trees also remove harmful contaminents from the air such as carbon dioxide, etc. and replace them with oxygen which we all need.  They provide a habitat for birds and wildlife.  They reduce ozone levels in urban areas.  They produce carbon which helps other plants grow.  They reduce urban runoff and erosion by storing water and breaking the force of rain as it falls.  They absorb sound and reduce noise pollution. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    The more we hear Mac speak the more we hang our head in shame.

  12. Sad says:

    Bars in Stingray City; plans for larger airport, port, cruise dock, more stratas; development all over the place. If there’s a reducing financial industry, incoming taxes, & the further loss of nature & the environment, what will be left for the Cayman people & to attract tourists? There isn’t much as it is to be honest, so spoiling what is here is crazy.

    I see Cuba is looking to develop tourist resorts, golf courses, & so on. At least they have the land & only lease it to companies. But watch out Cayman; Cuba is changing, so before you spoil this lovely place for ever, realise that people do have a choice of where to go, & many other islands are close by. Protect Cayman now & stop over development, & the lust for money.

    • peter milburn says:

      Hear Hear!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

       

      Give generously to the National Trust so they can continue to buy (at fair market value) as much of the environmentally important land as possible.  The land is then preserved in perpetuity for the people of the Cayman Islands.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Not only are they removing the buffer zone-unbelievale and disgusting-but now we have to put up with jack hammers and backhoe noises every weekend again.

    No longer peaceful weekends, the developers employ people who work Saturdays and Sundays.

    What are we going to tell our children and grandchildren. Go to the library to see what wonderful wildlife there used to be on the island.

    All people seem to see these days is the almighty dollar, what a terrible price to pay for "prosperity"

    • Anonymous says:

      They are not removing the buffer zone, government was unable to PUT a buffer zone becasue the people objected. they wanted to be able to develop.

    • Anonymous says:

      Go to the library to see what wonderful wildlife there used to be on the island. Key word _used to_

      Hope we have enough pictures.  Unfortunately you can’t take a picture to relay the feeling of life on our beloved isle Cayman

  14. Anonymous says:

    Will it not be easier just to sell the Island on Ebay?

     
  15. Anonymous says:

    Its the bloody Northsiders that did not want the buffer and now they are complaining that government is not requring the buffer? What a bunch of hypocrites. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You had your chance to have it protected and you landowners protested that you did not want a buffer and wanted to do what you wanted with the land.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed as usual it is a case of looking to blame somebody else.

      The Northsiders wanted to expand their homes to increase value so requested to build over the buffer. Now they can’t afford to expand as their homes have lost so much value they are complaining that anybody else should be allowed to.

       

  16. Big Ben says:

    Let’s not forget Mr Bush’s record on protecting environmental areas protected under the law, and also his attitude to the plight of the whistling ducks in the Brac.

    Here’s what was reported last year: "Mr. Bush was unconcerned about the environmental impact, saying at the meeting in August that it may be necessary to “shift the road a bit, chase away a few whistling ducks, but so be it, that’s common law”." (Caymanian Compass, 16/9/20009, http://www.caycompass.com/cgi-bin/CFPnews.cgi?ID=10385539)

    Don’t forget that planning applications on the Brac are considered on a case-by-case basis with no laws in place to regulate decisions (correct me if I’m wrong), hence Bush’s enthusiastic remarks, which he is allowed to make.

    Yes, let’s get a conservation law, and can someone please tell us how we can lobby the decision makers here to avoid making another ignorant mistake.

    BB

  17. Anonymous says:

    In a not so distant future, there will be no reason for this Island to exist. Nothing to do or see, just buildings, crime, traffic. The things that made this island a great place are almost gone. Of course those who make money of new developments now, will have enough cash to relocate to a new place when Grand Cayman takes the final plunge. For the rest of us…good luck. As a Caymanian, I am ashamed to face my children and tell them we failed as a society. Greed, corruption, ignorance at choosing our leaders brought us to this sad point.

  18. peter milburn says:

    This is unbelievable that someone can be so shortsighted as to allow this to happen.When is our Premier going to pull his head from the sand and listen to what the populuce are saying?Short term gain for long time pain is the way this WILL pan out mark my words and it will not stop there I am sure.Our environment is far to fragile to allow this sort of madness to continue.Maybe this is indeed the area that our new benefactor(Shetty)will be doing his thing.Our future is now in the hands of a few that cant see the world for blinders that they must have all gotten from the same source.(Blinders for those who might be unfamiliar with the word are leather thingys that ALL politicians wear when they dont want to see anything else).Man they must be wearing them fulltime now.

  19. Richard N. Parson says:

     God help Cayman.  Of course it wouldn’t hurt for a few thousand Caymanians to get involved either. The beautiful, natural, often rare environment of Cayman is disappearing and when it is gone there will be nothing left but "development".  What a shame.  What a disgrace.  You have elected people who don’t care about anything except money.  Cayman is so fragile because of its tiny size, but nobody seems to care……

  20. whodatis says:

    Am I the only Caymanian that finds his undying love for this country becoming more and more underlined with a sense of longing nostalgia?

    I would like to sincerely express my thanks and appreciation to my fellow Caymanians for contributing to and sharing with me one of if not the best possible place to grow up in this world.

    I say these words for it is clear to me what the future holds for us.

    There is no longer a line between "Cayman" and capitalism. Nothing is sacred or respected any longer. These are the values of this western world in which we live after all.

    There is a never ending demand for development, profits, exploitation, child-neglect (Crime rate anyone? Under-aged single parents anyone?) and callousness for any society to stay afloat in this system.

    So … goodbye Beloved Isle Cayman – hello Mr. Investor(s) (by way of you-know-whos!)

    • Anonymous says:

      reading this comment hurts… because there’s truth in it.  Seems "Oh land of soft fresh breezes … I will not thee forget" will soon only be a memory.  I love (d) it here.

  21. Big whopper says:

    Caymanians start making plans to go somewhere else this place is lost They are destroying our precious environment day by day . Yes Cayman you will now see how welcoming our imported guests are when we get to their town. Try not to be so shocked or outrage when you find out that you not welcome or mistreated just put it down to our own stupidity.

    • Anonymous says:

      hmmm, unwelcome and mistreated like many expats are here by the good christian caymanian’s!

      pull the other one, Christian Caymanian’s are not exactly welcoming or respectful to the philipinos or Jamaicans.

  22. Anonymous says:

    The land for the development is owned by voters from West Bay so of course McKeeva is no longer interested in the buffer zone and planning will offer a "willing ear’

    Stand up North Siders!!!

     

    • Anon says:

      Yes, stand up Northsiders – make your voice be heard.  I am from BT but will gladly stand behind you and lend my support – to allow development here would be utter madness.  I can only speculate that recent reluctance to deal with the conservation bill is due (yet again) to greed taking precedence over common sense: develop all the areas we would otherwise want to see protected and only then might we be able to make progress on a conservation bill, i.e. when its already too late and there’s nothing left to protect.

  23. Anonymous says:

    this is not a democracy anymore…..

    if the above is correct we should be calling for the resignations of mackeeva and miller now!

    hopefully cayman ‘journalists’ will follow this story up!

    well done cns for bringing it to our attention

    • bradley says:

      Hello…

      Cayman was never a Democracy for the people and by the people!

      It is an "APPARENT DEMOCRACY"

      Read your Constitution 2009 and the clauses where the Governor and Her Majesty has the last say…

      So dream on!  We never had it and we never will!

  24. Ex-Lobsta Hunta - till Decemba says:

    It seems that everything that we try to preserve this ‘quack’ wants to destroy. Everyone in the world are trying to preserve the environment in some form. Hell, it’s like he’s from another planet or something… Or just XXXX.

  25. Anonymous says:

    McKeeva and the UDP no longer care about indigenous Caymanian homo sapiens in generalbecause they intend to create as many new ones as they need to vote for them so why would he care about Caymanian waterfowl or their environment!  Shame. No leadership. No future.

  26. Shamrock says:

    It would be a shame to see this natural habitat destroyed. When will our leaders learn that concrete and bricks do not necessarily amount to advancement? This has me wondering if this area is one of the proposed locations for the Shetty hosptal project.

    We should try to preserve the pristine and natural environments that exist in North Side and East End, and leave the over-development for GT and SMB!

    We need to have the Conservation Bill enacted as soon as possible, otherwise all of Cayman will be nothing but a concrete jungle.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Another irresponsible action by the honorable member for North Side. What else wil he try to destroy?

    Everyone else is trying to protect and conserve yet he seems to want to tear down. Please someone try to talk sense into this man’s thinking. he is out of step with modern day thinking and is too radical for Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you read the article? Ezzard is the one questioning why the premier refuses to "conserve and protect."

      • Rabble Rouser says:

        Can you read? Are you able to grasp what "In answer to a recent parliamentary question by the independent representative Ezzard Miller, on behalf of constituents who had been refused planning permission" really means?

    • Anonymous says:

      You seem to be confusing the 1st elected member from West Bay – the Premier Mr. McKeeva Bush – with the elected member from North Side, Mr. Ezzard Miller. It was Mr. Miller’s question that brought this to light.  

  28. Bodden says:

    EVERYTHING HAS A PRICE!

    I am sure Dr. Shetty’s Hospital, covering 500 acres (each acre is 90% the size of a 53 yard American football field), will cut down important trees and bush, needed for the conservation of local wildlife.

    That is why an environmental assessment is so important before we engage in massive projects like the cruise berthing facility or sign any deals.

    • Anonymous says:

      With the Premier’s current lack of interest in preserving the environment, I suspect they will put the hospital in the Salinas area where Fred Burton and his team have been releasing the blue iguanas in an attempt to preserve these endangered indigenous species.