Mangroves removed for airline safety

| 15/04/2011

(CNS): The destruction of mangroves in the wetlands of Cayman Brac is said to be in accordance with aviation safety regulations. The Cayman Islands Airports Authority is removing vegetation, including mangroves, plop nut trees and silver leaf buttonwood, from the West End Ponds, which lie between the Gerrard-Smith International Airport and the main tourist area of the island. The CIAA says it is following international safety standards to remove high obstacles, including trees, around runways for the safe operation of aircraft. The Department of Environment has confirmed that there is currently no legislation which either offers protection to mangroves or requires any individual or organisation to consult with the department before clear mangroves and the CIAA are acting entirely within the law.

However, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said they would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss the matter with the CIAA prior to the destruction of the mangroves to get a better understanding of its operational requirements and objectives to see if anything could have been done to mitigate the damage, and she said they would be pleased to do so in the future.

The CIAA is mandated to ensure that its two international airports are in compliance with the regulatory standards published by the Civil Aviation Authority Cayman Islands (CAACI) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a spokesperson for the authority said. “As such, the trees in question are in the process of being removed as a result of safety concerns and regulatory compliance requirements. Any obstacles that penetrate the G-SIA’s Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) are either trimmed or removed following regular surveys of the runway strip and OLS,” she said, though the CIAA were unable to clarify how much of the wetland vegetation would be removed.

The authority explained that Obstacle Limitation Surfaces are a series of surfaces which define the limits to which obstacles, including trees, may project vertically into the airspace surrounding our runways to permit the safe operation of aircraft.

The West End Ponds are a wetland area that has been promoted as an integral part of Nature Tourism for the island and are home for a variety of herons, egrets and the West Indian Whistling Duck. However, they ponds lie on the edge of the runway of the Brac airport and the occasional ingestion of birds into aircraft engines, which is a safety hazard and is costly to the airlines, has been a point of contention for many years.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    They had to be removed.

    The evil towering mangroves posed a threat because their flailing limbs could swat aircraft out of the sky.

  2. Green Hornet says:

    Of course, once again we are reminded that we have absolutely NO legislation protecting on-land ecological resources in Cayman. Oh, a couple of ponds are protected but, of course, they can be delisted at any time the government wants to just as were the ones where the Brac airport now lies. Until we have politicians that have the guts to tune into the rest of the planet and enact environmental legislation that can be enforced, we will continue to witness the on-going destruction of our islands.

  3. Anonymous says:

    To the comment “is this really an international airport” do you what it requires for an airport to have international status? Obviously not! Do your research before you comment please. International requirements and an international airport are completly different. One area in Cayman Brac where mangroves and the shrimp holes are being destroyed and ignored is at our landfill site please look into that area.

  4. Anonymous says:

     Well, someone started filling in the pond and building a road through the ponds before and the Governor stopped him saying it was protected.  When did it get unprotected?  It was Governor Gore, if I remember correctly.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Is that really an international airport?

  6. Ed Nil says:

    A few trees or a few lives?…hummmm…let me weigh in on this in a bit. I have to ponder…and ponder….and ponder….after hours of pondering….I vote for HUMANS! 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    ‘Bout time!!!

    This was necessary years ago, in fact from the time jet aircraft were introduced into the Brac. You want the little strip of mangroves near the Brac runway? Then get rid of the jets!!! You want the jets to stay? Then the little tiny little strip of mangroves has to go!!!

    The apartments that Capt. Mabry (of blessed memory) put up there some years ago should also be removed in the interest of safety. They are in the direct path of the take-off from the runway and should never have been allowed. But then again the Brac is a law unto itself and has no Planning Regulations nor requirements. And we all remember who Capt. Mabry was!!!

    Let the band play on!!!



    • Anonymous says:

      it is better to remain quiet and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. Which apartments did Capt. Mabry “put up”?

      • Anonymous says:

        The ones that are in the flight path!!!

      • Anonymous says:

         I’m looking the answer to this one too.

      • Florence Goring-Nozza says:

        Are they really telling us the truth, or are they just blowing smoke up…again!

        Let’s not take our eyes off the screen, not even for a moment, we may miss something… some developer with this government in his back pocket starting up some dredging project or another in the not too distant future? some one needs to look into this more closely. I have a feeling we’re not getting the whole story about the true facts surrounding this strange, or shall I say lame, unusual and weird excuse for destroying the wetlands that are already realized as a natural protective barrier to protect these islands from the great impact of hurricanes that could hit our little island .Everyone seems to understand this except this present reckless government. 

        We are now left to wonder if planning has any applications for a project in Cayman Brac at this time for the deep pockets that control our government? Let’s start our investigation there and If not, then we need to keep an eye on things ’cause an application may just pop up!

        Owen Roberts International Airport  in Grand Cayman has operated for decades surrounded by wetlands and there was never a problem or any need to disturb them, just who do they think they are fooling?:  Bear in mind that this could also be a test for the people to see if they will toughen up to this government and let them know, we are not going to put up with this kind of questionable  actions that are not at all comprehensive nor does it contribute positively in  the interest of our  safety nor our local and national security.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure that these mangroves were ever a threat to aircraft.

    • Anonymous says:

       Are you a Pilot?

    • Anonymous says:

      The Wetlands are not DIRECTLY impacting the safe operation of aircraft. They Provide Food & Shelter to wildlife that are a very serious threat to flights both landing & departing Cayman Brac. It’s unfortunate, but necessary. This is happening worldwide, not just in the Cayman Islands. What should have been done years ago, is being done now. Look into the amount of birdstrikes & ingestions just by CAL alone, and the costs incurred by these strikes, and the answer is simple. Unpopular, but clearly the correct decision.