Mangroves still in danger

| 13/08/2010

(CNS): A report published by the United Nations last month has revealed that critically important mangroves continue to be lost at a rate three to four times higher than land-based forests. The news comes at a time when the Cayman Islands own proposed national conservation law is still at the consultation stage with no guarantee that it will make it to the Legislative Assembly next month as was hoped. During a series of public meetings in July when the Department of Environment director spelt out the pressing need for a conservation law here, Gina Ebanks-Petrie, noted the massive loss of mangroves that Cayman has suffered over the years and their current precarious protection. The NCL, she said, would offer a way of protecting what remains of the country’s mangrove areas. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

In 1980 there was over 5,000 acres of wetland and mangrove habitat on the western side of Grand Cayman. Today just a fraction of the mangroves remains, with more than 66 percent of those areas being lost.
Once the NCL is enacted, Ebanks-Petrie has stated that the DoE will be seeking to designate the central mangrove wetlands,which covers over 8000 acres, an area of special protection to try and ensure that this critical habitat has a chance of survival. Currently around only 1,500 acres of the area has protection through the Marine Parks law.
The DoE director pointed out that around the coast mangroves have been particularly vulnerable to the bulldozer and buffer designation has not been sufficient to protect these precious resources. Even though development should not, according to the planning law, take place in mangrove buffers unless there are exceptional circumstances, mangroves are still being ripped out in the face of development.
In May CNS revealed that the developers of Dragon Bay had been given planning permission to remove well over 300,000 square feet of mangrove buffer along a 1,500 foot strip on the North Sound.
Ebanks-Petrie pointed out that this most recent loss of mangroves happened despite the fact that the DoE had submitted a lengthy report recommending that planning permission not be granted.“With a National Conservation Law in place, the Central Planning Authority would at the very least have been required to take the environmental assessment provided by the DoE into consideration,” Ebanks-Petrie said.
The loss of mangrove areas anywhere on the island is significant because of the amount already lost, causing fragmentation of the existing mangrove areas and because it is very difficult replant.
“It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to re-create mixed mangrove communities,” the DoE director said recently. “Even fringing red mangroves are notoriously difficult to replant successfully on exposed coastlines … We have had very little progress with existing projects such as that in South Sound, where after several years the mangroves have still not taken to any substantial level. The time frames involved in re-establishing mature mangrove stands are significant.”
One of the major concerns in Cayman when it comes to the destruction of mangrove is the loss of natural protection from storm surge during hurricanes. But mangroves are also vitally important to the ocean surrounding the Cayman Islands as they act as nurseries for fish and other marine creatures. The entire living system of North Sound is inextricably linked to the central mangroves, and local experts say it would collapse if the wetland were ever destroyed.
Dr Mark Spalding, lead author of the UN’s World Mangrove Atlas and senior marine scientist with The Nature Conservancy, says that there are extraordinary synergies between people and mangrove forests. “The trees provide hard, rot-resistant timber and make some of the best charcoal in the world. The waters all around foster some of the greatest productivity of fish and shellfish in any coastal waters,” he said. “What’s more, mangrove forests help prevent erosion and mitigate natural hazards from cyclones to tsunamis – these are natural coastal defences whose importance will only grow as sea level rise becomes a reality around the world."
According to the UN report, a number of countries are moving to protect mangrove forests and are seeking ways of attempting to replenish areas that are lost. Here in Cayman, the future of the national conservation law still hangs in the balance and after almost a decade of discussionand debate there are still no guarantees that mangroves or any of Caymans critical habitat will receive legislative protection any time soon.
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  1. Jonathan says:

    The need for the protection of the surviving mangrove forests in Grand Cayman cannot be overstated.  They are the nursery grounds for many of the species of sea life that has attracted folks to the Cayman Islands over the years, not to mention fed and enriched the lives of many Caymanians.  The list of positive attributes of mangrove wetlands is long.  The pros of protecting what we have left is far more powerful than the cons.  The CPA clearly has in it’s ranks some people who will at the drop of a hat betray everything, including common sense and foresight, in the interests of greed.  Now McKeeva Bush has railroaded a law which gives him carte blanche to do whatever he and his band want to do regarding destructive forms of development with no legal right to be made aware of and/or recourse to protest whatever it may be.  Those in the LA who allowed such a law to pass secretively are, in my humble opinion, a shameful example of true decrepitude.  It is only the up until now peaceful nature of many people of this country and the fracturing effects from the despicable tentacles of corruption that have saved said collective hides from the consequences so richly deserved.


    The National Trust office sits on the land now named "Dart Park".  Question; who put the fox in the henhouse?  Am I the only one who is identifying a conflict ofinterest with a nice picture frame around it?  Many thanks to the geniuses who sold so much of this country en masse to the Dart international corporation with quite obviously no concern for this country or its long term future.  Same goes for the whole sale of the majority of holdings regarding the tourism industry here.  Another brilliant move was to sell out the majority of one of our national sources of income to the same said individual, including the dock facilities (it must be said that,in my humble opinion, the PPM MOU on the same subject was just as egregious).  The port facilities are our lifeline as a nation and it should always be owned by the Cayman Islands in its entirety and absolutely, bar none, end of story.  That goes for the airport too for crying out loud.  For any nation to consciously allow any majority of holdings by a single privately owned entity is a recipe for ultimate disaster, it is called a monopoly and it is unhealthy for all in the long run.  I encourage all Caymanians to find and watch the comedic/satirical movie starring Robin Williams called "Club Paradise" for a nice clear picture of the road this country is very far along on.  It is better to laugh than to cry I reckon.  Hindsight is 20/20 but is useless if not learned from.

    While the people of the supposedly less developed districts do have an intrinsic right to balk at the perceived encroachments on their rights as land owners, especially considering the free for all gold rush mentality corruption shindig to their West on the other side of the North Sound, I beg you to see the true value of what you have now.  It is immense.  People who go on vacation tend want to see something different than the concrete jungle which is now the western side of Grand Cayman.  The proposed laws forthe conservation of our natural heritage are valuable and the need for it cannot be overstated.  If any body tells you that you cannot harvest silver thatch fronds on your own property, or any other such tripe, then I will be the first to stand up with you but please understand that this part of the discussion is, in my humble opinion, a red herring, meant to the muddy the waters in the search for a solution to a real and pressing issue.  I can only wish that the ability to purchase the land in the immensely valuable (think rainfall versus the "heat island" effect) central mangrove wetland for instance was possible in the interests of protecting it by legal charter were doable but we all know the practical likelihood of that at this time in our history is none too likely.  The people of these districts, especially the older folk, know this land better than anyone else and their input and knowledge is extremely valuable to the overall picture.  Wherever the consequences for such legislation may impact anyone they should allways have a say in an open forum and I do agree that there should be representation by respected leaders of said districts to represent the concerns of their fellow people in the formation of the legislation and the decisions made after the formation of the conservation law.  I would humbly suggest Mr. Willy Ebanks as a prime cadidate for such a post if he were to accept it.  His history with helping the whistling duck recover combined with his status as a man of the soil by both bloodline and mattock seems a healthy mix. 

      We as a country need to try to come together on these issues to find the best solutions possible free from the debilitating effects of avarice, greed and corruption.  Due to our relatively small size as a nation we can/should/and hopefully will one day practice real democracy.  The responsibility for the hugely negative consequences of this "us versus them" and/or "have and have nots" mentality lands squarely on the noggin of those who perpetuate it’s existence. 

    Until the people of the Cayman Islands can acheive the solidarity necessary to dis-allow within the realm of public decision making the existence of predatory politicians and allow real democracy to flourish then my optimism is severely curtailed.  The fox needs to be removed from the henhouse, then we can all eat breakfast.  Silence is tantamount to approval.  God bless the Cayman Islands, we need it.



    • Wha Ya Say says:

      The National Trust occupies one of two buildings which sits on Crown land. Although this park is named "Dart Park" it is still government owned. Similarly, the parks in West Bay, Bodden Town, North Side, and East End  which are named after various people remain Crown property.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The majority of the mangrove destruction is perpetrated by the "developers", XXXXX and is permitted by the CI Government. IMHO the wealthy will figure out a way to acquire more wealth at the expense of the environment and the citizens of the Cayman Islands regardless of legislation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes Ezzard (a former, dethroned Leader of Government & now posing as a RobinHood to the forgetful masses):- your civil servants are the ones who are buiding ivory towers and getting rich and driving Corvettes… yeah right!!! 

    Politicians and developers will continue to target government workers until they (like the mangroves) are no longer able to provide even a minimal buffer against their onslaughts – forgetting that nature Will takes its course eventually. By then it will be too late for us minions.

    Your occasional politial rants about sensitive issues are sometimes welcomed, but we all remember your egotistic & dictatorial style of governance.

  4. Ezzard Miller says:

    It is statements such as;

    " Once the NCL is enacted, Ebanks-Petrie that the DoE will be seeking to designate the central mangrove wetlands, which covers over 8,000 acres, an area of special protection"

    that will prevent the NCL from ever becomming law in its present draconian all powerful DoE format.

    Supporters of the NCL in current form, most of whome I am sure have not read the law in its enterity and don’t own land that will be affected and confiscated to preserve snakes and scorpions.

    This kind of Ivory tower building, kingdom establishing by career civil servants who wish to see there imporance and therefore paycheck continue to grow at the expense of us ordinary citizens is what is bankrupting these fair Cayman Islands.  

    • Dick Shaugneary says:

      You must be an impostor posing as Ezzard because you are illiterate. 

      A few examples:

      1. "such as;" inappropriate use of semi-colon.

      2. "becomming" : spelling error.

      3. "whome" : spelling error.

      4. "enterity": spelling error.

      5. The sentence "Supporters  . . . scorpions" is a clausal disaster.

      6. "Ivory tower": incorrect capitalisation.

      7. "there imporance" : "their"

      8. "imporance" : spelling error.

      9. "us ordinary citizens" : yuck.

      You only wrote three sentences!

      If you were 8 you might get a borderline pass for the failed attempt at flowery writing.  But I suggest you go back to school before you post on CNS again.



      • Anonymous says:

        That is brutal irony, Dick, as you know perfectly well that’s how Ezzard writes. Literacy is not his strongest asset. But his fans love him just so long as he keeps bashing furriners and anyone who thinks Cayman should enter the 21st century.

        • Anonymous says:

          Perhaps, but that is not Ezzard and with all the choices we have to post anonymously or with an alias, to hijack someone else’s name speaks volumes about the nature and intent of that poster.

          • Anonymous says:

            I agree, everyone knows Ezzard likes his rants and to be dramatic but not this ignorant about a core island issue. It sounded like the mangrove wetlands actually scared whoever was the author.

            • Anonymous says:

              I agree that we would hope that Ezzard Miller would have more elevated views than these – and while this may well be an ‘imposter’  – having heard Mr Miller’s thoughts on the environment in the past – the imposter has accurately portrayed how he thinks. He does not understand the value of the mangroves in Cayman and still sees them as ‘swamps’ which should be filled. The 1950’s understanding. He may be smarter than to make such blatantly ignorant statements these days – or his understanding of the value of the environment may have evolved. While I do hope so, unfourtunately – I doubt this evolution has occured.

              • Qiz Knows says:

                If it is him, we should stop worrying about our MLA’s doing part-time law degrees and start encouraging them to go to adult literacy classes.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is terrifying that there has not been some form of clarification sent by the real [Ezzard].  That is leading me to the horrible conclusion that it was him.  OMG!

    • Anonymous says:


      No elected educated individual could conceivably limit the value of the mangrove wetlands as a refuge for snakes and scorpions. My goodness with such a vision for the country and unrestrained development one can only wonder what the Cayman of the 22nt Century will look like. It frankly saddens me that there are those who will be obstructionist toward the environment but then majority rules.

      Hopefully the voting majority with disagree with Mr Miller’s views.

    • Anonymous says:


      Mr. Miller please take your blinders off.


      Do you really not understand the issues, our environment is critically important to the future of tourism in our Islands, our health and life style?


      Please Mr. Miller stop alarming the public about scorpions and fire ants let us deal with the subject head on to get resolution.


      Will you please tell us if you have completed your proposed changes to the NCLand if you have will you send a copy to CNS so that we can see how you propose to change the NCL?

      No, I will use my name because the Cayman Islands is a very vindictive society and we are all easy targets by the powerfull.


      Thanks CNS for this medium to express my views.

      • anonymous says:

        Why do you idiots keep expressing your timidity for the rich and the powerful?. You are the constitutents and have power to put them in and power to take them out !

        I take it you do not know who you are if you did you would not make such convincing  and weak statements.

        Do you realize there are with more of us than be with them?

        If somebody tries to hurt you,regardless of how big a shot he or she is, where did you get the new philosophy from that you can’t hurt them back for XXXX with you? Are you going to give them back what they plan for you.Cayman is raising up a generation of people who won’t take their vindictive victimizaton anymore.

        You have got to be crazy to join the weak and heopless. Get this idea out of your heads that a powerful politician can hurt you but you can’t hurt them back, that’s XXXXX!

        Ever heard of this saying" if someone is out to get you, you get them first? 

        Think about that.

    • Anonymous says:


      The Central Mangrove Wetlands must be protected in thier entirety. Its a matter of the utmost importance for the well being of all Caymanians – present and future. Protection from storms, the health of our marnine ecosystems, the clarity of our waters. Rainfall everywhere down wind of the CMW (ie most of the island). Our tourism industry. The ability of our fishermen to make a living.

      The CMW are also the largest remaining inland mangrove wetland in the Caribbean ie having importance to the whole region.

      These and other factors – trump the interests of your greedy constituents who own land in the CMW and wish to dredge as much of the CMW as they can and fill thier pockets.

      Its a must do that is obvious to just about everyone besides the handful of people who own land in the CMW and are blinded by the dollar signs.

      Your ignorance is so obvious. Snakes and scorpions? How about your grandchildren and great grand children. And yes the endangered Cayman Parrot, our agricultural lands in the Lower Valley area, our entire marine ecosystem in and around the Sound which will impact the marine ecosystem around the entire island and probably lead to its collapse if too much of the CMW is cleared.

      Your constituents who own land in the CMW will be fairly compensated for their land at market value by the government, through the mechanisms which the NCL will put in place.

      I have read the NCL in its entirety and your propanda about it is entirely misleading and irresponsible. No land will be siezed from anyone. The conservation board will approach individuals who own land which is deemed in need of conservation. They will be offered to 1) sell thier land to be put under permanent conservation at fair market price or 2) have the conservation board manage thier property for a specified period e.g. they will be paid to not develop thier land for 25 years. Or they can choose to not enter in to any agreement about thier land.

  5. Animaliberator says:

    Until we become one with nature, we shall discover the need to conserve what we have left. We are just a spit in the ocean with only so much to lose and it has been proven that once the mangroves are gone/removed by whatever force or reason, it will not come back in our life time. Ivan has provided a clear example of how long it will take before any mangroves will grow to be called substantial the way it was before. Mangrove is not a plant one can stick in a pot and later plant in the field. I have mentioned before as well that the mangroves are our only serious natural filtration system that can not be reproduced once removed.

    Personally, I do not care who takes it away for whatever reason. The big trick will be to develop whatever without disturbing the remaining mangroves as without them, the s..t is literally going to hit the fan, yours and mine!

    This doesn’t "smell" good to me!

  6. I'm a Caymanian and I care! says:

    Dear Aug 12th, 21:50,

    I’m a born and bred Caymanian with ancestors going back to our earliest inhabitants.  How dare you assume most of us Caymanians don’t care!

    The average peaceful Caymanian is being blamed for a few greedy aggressive individuals.  I would also like to remind you that a good portion of those major developments are NOT owned or operated by born and bred Caymanians but recent status holders.  

    Please stop your ignorance!  Good and bad exist in BOTH  local and foreign individuals resident on these islands. 

    I’m really sick and tired of this assumption that Caymanians don’t care about their environment.  Did you forget Gina and several of her staff ARE born and bred CAYMANIANS??? 

    Not to mention don’t you understand the CAYMANIAN government not some foreign government, is the entity  who put in place the few environmental laws we do have.  Yes, we can always improve but stop bashing Caymanians. 

    You know what they say about assumptions, it makes an ASS out of U and ME.

    Thank you, Gina for doing an excellent job at DOE over your many years of service to our islands and all its people.  You are a fine example of a Caymanian.


    • Anonymous says:

      Yep you are right, most of the those developments are owned by non Caymanians, but….guess who sold them the propery to build on it, then whine about how our Island is being over developed.  You liked the money when you got it for the sale STOP COMPLAINING and blaming everyone for your MISTAKES

      • Anonymous says:

        While I do agree that it makes me very sad to see that several Caymanians have sold their birthright to the highest bidder, your logic onthe next part is a bit off. 

        Some of people sold their land for greed, but some sold it to pay medical bills.  Not to mention some pieces of land were so large, that when under dispute from other joint family owners, a single well intended owner could not afford the bank loans to keep it in the family, by himself. 

        Just because I sell my car (land) to Joe, does not mean when Joe runs over and kill someone (destroys the environment) that I am responsible for Joe’s behaviour. 


    • Anonymous says:

      Dear Caymanian and I care:

      "Back to our earliest inhabitants". So you are Scottish/Irish/Welsh/African. Thanks for your comments which are sensible You are right that some of the developers are not from here and also right to use the expression "a good proportion of" to refer to them because you will have  also remembered developers with solid Caymanian credentials such as Bobby Bodden, Rene Hislop, Burns Conolly, Naul Bodden, Rex Crighton, Jim Bodden, Selkirk Watler.

      I am also pleased to note you saying that many of the DOE people are born Caymanians. It makes a change from the other posters on this site who are always insinuating the DOE are expats.It’s also good to see you saying that the few environmental laws we have are from Caymanian governments since Ezzard and his acolyte Harris McCoy like to insinuate that environmental concerns are "furrin" impositions.

      You are also 100% right about Gina Ebanks-Petrie.


      • Anonymous says:

        Let us never forget the combined wealth Bodden, Watler, Hislop, Conolly and Crighton does not even begin to compare to those formerly foreign developers (now Caymanian by Status) on SMB. 

        Just "love" the development which uses native dry forest trees as penance for the anilation of the native mangrove filtration and butter system.  Just in case they didn’t noticethey didn’t find dry forest native trees on the east side of SMB.  I’m constantly amazed how easy it is to pull the wool over some people’s eyes.

        Also looking forward to all that "replanting" of mangroves I keep hearing the other one talking about. 

        Um hum and pigs fly too, I hear!


    • Anonymous says:

      I regret upsetting you with my previous comments and I am aware of the nationality of Gina Ebanks-Petrie.

      In a democracy majority rules and both the PPM & the UDP have delayed the passage of the long overdue Conservation Law. Why is that?

      Politicians cater to the will of the voters for their own self interest, to be elected. If conservation was an important issue in the minds of Caymanian voters then the Conservation Law would have been passed long before now.

      Being upset does not change this fact. The landfill continues to grow and recycling is still a dream. I don’t expect you to agree with this and I never said all Caymanians in my previous post.

      Vent your anger at the politicians who ignore your values, being angry at me does nothing.

      • Anonymous says:

        “In a democracy majority rules and both the PPM & the UDP have delayed the passage of the long overdue Conservation Law. Why is that?”

        “In a democracy majority rules…” is many times a myth and this myth is playing out right now in our Beautiful Isles Cayman.

        Simple answer, while there are big differences between the personalities and their style of governance, unfortunately “He who holds the gold, makes the rules”, both the UDP and PPM serve the same few masters and it is not really the voters.

        Caymanians no longer hold any financial control over the Cayman Islands, the same few masters control the economy primarily for their own short term benefit.   The finances of both the UDP and PPM, therefore both sets of politicians, are also controlled by the same few masters and these few masters get whatever they want because Caymanians are easily fooled and loyalty for votes is bought out cheaply, not really knowing what they do when voting.  

        Self-destruction is very rarely ever averted.

        Because most Caymanians are blinded by greed it will be generations, if ever, before Caymanians realize the loss of the Islands has occurred and someone writes the story “Beautiful Isles Cayman – LOST”. 


  7. Sarah Palin-Bush says:

    How unna expects me to see Cubea from my front porch with all dat mangrove blockin’ my view?


  8. Anonymous says:

    Its awful when it gets to thatpoint of now they are endangered.  Hey where was the National Trust, where was Government when all these mangroves were torn down for development?  Naming the Ritz for one.  Greed destroyed our little Island!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agee with you when you say that greed is destroying our island.

      However your comment about the National Trust is incorrect.  They did make objections in the past.


      • Anonymous says:

        Yes you are correct, but unfortunately no one listened to them.  So why bother having a National Trust.  The people working there do their best, give their input and NO ONE listens, again it all amounts to the Greed!!!


        I do remember now the National Trust objecting on the Ritz…..and the Ritz was still built.  Didn’t they tear down the mangroves and covered behind it with a huge mound of marl  years ago?

        • Anonymous says:

          At the end of the day the National Trust can only object based on the facts and the laws of the day. Then it is passed on to a higher authority for a decision.  That "higher authority" is what needs to be looked at by our voters.

          I totally agree about greed destroying our islands.

          However, to say why have a National Trust, would be like saying we don’t need a doctors or a hospice because people are going to die anyway.  Global warning in the future may put Grand Cayman under water, but atleast the National Trust is trying to do its part and do it now…not tomorrow when we start bailing water out of our house.  

          I think we all need to ask ourselves what are we doing as individuals to help our children have a future on this island.

          The National Trust plays a vital role in preservation and in education.

  9. "Thinking before speaking..." says:

    Many thanks for continuing to shine the light on the fact that Cayman’s urgent need to enact and enforce National Conservation Law must not be ignored or forgotten by the Government and/or the public!  

    In the meantime, I am trying very hard not to conclude that the main reason why the Minister of Environment is allowing more time for the public to gve input on the NCL is actually to give the Cabinet/Goverment more time to secretly approve those irreversibly destructive self-interest groups’ projects like opening up the reefs and gouging deep andwide channels in the North Sound and, of course, the dock (quarry actually) in East End….  And just imagine how much more harm they will be able to do to this "2 by 4 country" if they are able to achieve  the Premier’s latest goal of getting a sixth Cabinet Minister even if it means breaking the Constitution – has anyone noticed how CG looks away from the cameras as if ashamed when expressing his support and reasons for supporting the Premier’s latest ruse to further increase his choke hold on this country?   

    Anyway, itis really unbelievable that in this day and age there could be anyone with  properly functioning brain cells (or common sense, mother’s wit or whatever you may call it) still refusing to recognize and acknowledge that how we use and  care for our natural environment (both on land and sea) determines not only our own health and quality of life but also of our children, grandchildren and generations to come.   

    By the way, can anyone recommend some readily available quick and easy educational science courses and resources which the Premier and all Ministers of Cabinet and others could take so that they might acquire at least a basic understanding of how humans and nature are co-dependent?   Perhaps it would then become clear to them that in order for the great majority of people in Cayman to have a chance to achieve a higher standard of living  depends on how high a standard of care and protection the government and public are willing to give to the natural environment.   Or is Cayman condemned to just more lip service and speaking with forked tongues from those in power?!? 


  10. Anonymous says:

    Gina Ebanks-Petrie has my complete support and she has done great work with limited governmental support.

    One of her very strong virtues is to remain committed to the environment of the Cayman Islands when over the years other departments have trumped the DoE in importance.

    Very few could seriously argue that most Caymanians are supporters of the environment or that they simply look to the environment with a view to exploit. 

    Many developers who are quick with their use of the bulldozers to clear mangroves need to be controled with a strong NCL.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe if Gina Ebanks-Petrie had been around at the time, our National Hero James M Bodden would not have been allowed to bulldoze down Fort George, just about our only truly historical building.

      • Anonymous says:

        National Hero lmao that is another subject entirely.  This country HAS NO IDEA WHAT A NATIONAL HERO IS!!!  That alone cost this country money it didn’t have, putting up all those "so called national hero placks"

      • Anonymous says:

        While I was too young to prevent that assult on such a significant historic site and couldn’t help….I’ve been told several Caymanian women like Gina, were apparently the ones, who stood in front of what remains of the old Fort George and prevented Mr. Jim from finishing the task. 

      • Turtle's Head says:

        There is a good reason his statue has his back turned to the Court house.