Cayman bottom of OT environment rankings

| 08/04/2013

ghost orchid2_1.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands has come at the bottom of the rankings for environmental protection in the first ever analysis of environmental laws across all of the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories. The Cayman Islands was found to be significantly lacking in its environmental protection legislation. The report assessed the priority policy areas of biodiversity protection and development planning against criteria of environmental governance, and while Gibraltar was ranked top, Cayman was shamefully ranked at the very bottom of the tableas a result of the persistent lack of political will to enact laws to protect the country’s natural resources.

The report, Environmental Governance in the UK’s Overseas Territories, was published and presented to the UK Government last month by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which wrote the report in conjunction with the Foundation for International Environmental Law & Development.

“Whilst some of the UK’s Overseas Territories such as Gibraltar have excellent environmental legislation, the gaps uncovered in this analysis are worrying and have the potential to allow damage to the environments and wildlife we are responsible for protecting,” said Tim Stowe, the RSPB’s Director of International Operations. “We hope this review will encourage the UK Government to fulfil its ambitions ‘to set world standards’ in the Overseas Territories and begin a programme of work to strengthen the most pressing gaps in their environmental laws.”

The report determined that the Cayman Islands and Pitcairn were the weakest in all of the four categories of analysis, which were Species Protection, Site Protection, Development Control and Accountability.

The assessment comes nine months after the UK Government published its Overseas Territories White Paper in which UK Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to ‘cherish the environments’ and ‘help ensure their good government’.

The UKOTs hold over 90% of the threatened wildlife for which the UK is responsible, including the Cayman Islands' blue iguana and the Cayman ghost orchid. The report’s brochure uses the Cayman Islands as a case study, outlining a number of major gaps in environmental protection.

“We are pleased to see that such a respected international organization is urging better protection of Cayman’s biodiversity, which will hopefully enhance the level of protection offered by the National Trust, which is currently 5% of the landmass of the Cayman Islands,” said National Trust Executive Director Christina McTaggart.

In addition to its findings, the report offers seven recommendations, including urgent action on stalled legislation. A follow-up report is planned for 2015 to measure progress.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Science and Nature

About the Author ()

Comments (37)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lack of political will:

    1) To protect the environment

    2) To stop the CIvil service from ballooning into a "too big to fail" social net the past 12 years

    3) To wean the country of the dependence of work permits as a major source of revenue

    And I don't foresee a change anytime soon in the 'political will' as no one is campaigning on these issues and taking a policy stance. 

    Sad days.

  2. Anonymous says:

    No politician have pushed this existing draft because it is draconian to say the least. It would further hurt the local economy and increase the already high cost of owning a home. Even more people would be unemployed as development ground to a halt.
    Last I heard, there is not much of a demand world wide for mosquitos and salt water, and Cayman doesn’t have much of anything else. Unless you count people who come here for what it is then try to change it into what they think it should be by stopping any other development. However, no much demand worldwide for them either.

    Besides, I don’t put much credance to a report by an environmental group who’s agenda is to increase protection of birds. They did not compare these countries environments, undeveloped land, and available habitat, only legislation. Amazing how things get twisted to make the situation seem dire.

    • Green Hornet says:

      A good example of the ignorance and total lack of understanding that are, perhaps, the biggest obstacle towards any kind of ecological ethic in Cayman.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Our conservation law was put on hold because the developer friends of the ex-Premier did not like it.  However the new administration have developer friends too so it was never brought back onto the table.  Developer friends pay consultancy fees.  Developer friends write letters for you.  Developer friends sometimes even pay in cash in ATMS in Vegas.  Mangroves do none of these nice things for politicians.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is incredibly sad. I wonder when the government will smarten up and realise 'where their bread is buttered'. If we ruin our environment, do they honestly think that we will continue to get tourists to come to our island? We, as a country, will not survive if there is a substantial decrease in tourism numbers. We are not as blessed as some ofthe other Caribbean countries with vast tropical rainforests, mountain ranges and rivers – we have mangroves and our oceans. If we continue to chop down the mangroves (like they are doing on South Sound) and have entities like our massive dump which is no doubt leaching all manner of dangerous chemicals and waste material into our already agriculturally unproductive soils then this island will flounder. Tear out the mangroves and see how quickly our reefs will suffer – one hurricane and our sand will be washed away, our reefs will be choked with sediment, and the beautiful and numerous aquatic species that rely on the mangrove habitat to spawn and grow to adults will all disappear. Say goodbye to our award-winning dive sites. Mangroves anchor our sand to the beaches. If they are removed, then the sand will be washed away by erosion at an alarming rate. Say goodbye to our world-famous white sand beaches. No proper streamlined recycling program on island? Not to worry, I suppose then we will soon have a mountain that will rival those on other neighbouring islands – Mt. Trashmore. It is time to smarten up, Cayman. We are only hurting ourselves, and this article is surely something to be ashamed of. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Tell governor Dart he needs fix this problem, pronto! Can’t have this bad review to go with our Monaco speedway, now can we?

  6. Anonymous says:

    And now Dart wants the dump in BT where it is environmentally sensitive! We need the UK to step in to put a halt to this plan as well and protect the area.

    • Anonymous says:

      According to this article, the whole island is environmentally sensitive. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes, we have "Species Protection, Site Protection, Development Control and Accountability."  What's wrong is the species protection is not properly enforced.  Ditto for site protection.  As for development control and Accountability, I have seen very little of either.  It seems no one cares.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Harsh reality, it’s call greed when you have politicians who places development over protection. There’s almost nothing left but pockets of trees in George Town. The minister for health and environment you are a disgrace considering your able to push and pass sale of organs verses protection of the environment which has been in limbo for years. Goes to show what takes precedence.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, but I’ve been to most of these other Islands including The Falklands and than the Falklands, because it’s too darn cold, the other OT’s are no match for the Cayman Islands! Most are trashy, dilapidated, backward and certainly don’t have the more worldly feel of it’s restaurants and quality of life combined with the proximity to the U.S. for convenience. While I can admit the the others have a lot of natural beauty that Cayman does not have like mountains, I like the convenience of having everything within our reach without having the backwardness of bad technology, quality of merchandise like food in stores, etc. I’ll stay here thank you!

    • Anonymous says:

      Nothing in your comment has anything to do with the environmental protection that our island is sorely lacking. The proximity to the US for "convenience" and the "worldly feel of it's restaurants" mean nothing in terms of the natural environment that we barely maintain. Just look – South Sound mangrove habitat is being destroyed by developers, people still eat and fish for endangered species like turtles and after being on island for my whole life, I have seenpeople fish animals that are too small from the ocean. We do not protect the fragile environment that we were given, and one day, this will be a huge regret. The bad technology and quality of merchandise in the stores that you claim are keeping you here, has absolutely nothing to do with this article. Read before responding.

    • Anonymous says:

      “I like…” And thus the rest of the environment can go to hell

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ya, but we could be good, if we cared. I bet those other places don’t got all the money we got!

  11. Anonymous says:

    We should all be ashamed of this, particularly our lawmakers. We are killing the goose that laid the golden egg by not protecting our natural beauty.

  12. Anonymous says:

    a damning indictment and testament to the failures and incompetence of caymanian politicians

  13. Anonymous says:

    but we are caymankind……zzzzzz

    we live in a wonderland where people campaign to save roads!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      It was not a road alone….

      I wonder if anyone has notice how many other little "gift" we are not receiving since those women insisted we were not getting good value for our land???

      Read the paper more brainy smurf and stop walking in the mushrooms!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Who the hell cares?? NO ONE.  As long as you have money come on down to the Cayman Islands and invest and build all you want – no worries about the mangroves!! I can't wait for the next hurricane to blow through that north sound!!


    Una worried now bout WB Road closed off ?? Well the next hurricane will sort this out. 

  15. Regular Visitor says:

    LOL, why am I not surprised? When I first visited Grand Cayman in March 1992 trash re-cycling policy was – everything in one big plastic bin to go into landfill. When I was last on-island in October 2012 re-cycling policy was – everything in one big plastic bin to go into landfill but now the 'landfill' is Mt Trashmore. And as for alternative power sources, electric cars, solar energy, wind power or any even most basic concepts of conservation there is nothing. You've also trashed Grand Cayman and seem set to do the same to Sister Islands. 

  16. Green Hornet says:

    Needless to say this report comes as no great surprise to anyone who lives here and has seen the complete and utter lack of political will to follow the rest of the planet and put in some basic laws of conservation. The "e" word has not passed the lips of any of those purporting to want to represent us forthe next four years. The Conservation Bill has now been shoved onto the back burner by every government since Bush first shelved it in 2001. I will believeit when I see it introduced into law.

    In fact, we seem to be going backwards. Some 25 years ago we were the envy of many Caribbean islands when our Marine Protected Areas legislation was introduced. Now our politicans have emasculated the one entity that based its assessments and regulations on hard science and common sense – the Marine Conservation Board (MCB). We can expect that any decisions made in the future by the MCB will be reversed by narrow-minded politicians listening to the semi-literate ranting of a few loud-mouthed fishermen whose minds are no bigger than those of the fish they catch.

    So, our biodiversity is threatened because it has no protection. Sub-division after sub-division march on filling mangroves in Grand Cayman and trashing the forest on the Brac's Bluff. Money continues to dictate the so-called environmental policy – from back-handers to XXXXX to condos for the senior politicians making sure of the smooth relationship between themselves and the developers.

    Is there any hope? Nothing I have seen in the past 10 years or so indicates that there is. Maybe, just maybe, the UK will get embarassed and mad enough to bring down the boot and make us conform with all the international treaties it has signed. I can't see any other way of making our government fulfill its obligations to the next generations by leaving them something other than a collection of empty condos and paved roads. Of landscapes denuded of forests, and reefs destroyed by a combination of polluted sewage and septic outfalls, this together with the lack of protected areas and replenishment zones.

  17. harsh reality says:

    I wonder who has failed to implement this Legislation! The UDP and the Minister responsible for this M.S. I would go as far as to say they have purposely stalled this vital piece of Legislation so that MIKE RYAN and DART could rip up the Mangroves and plow down the Wetlands at will.

    England needs to step in with some authority in the same way they did with the Port deal!

    • Anonymous says:

      That may be what this exercise is all about. What better excuse that a report by a completely non-aligned body?

    • Anonymous says:

      12.44…complain about it all you like…environmental protection starts in the home. And I regret that it is mostly (but by no means all) Caymanians who pollute the beaches with rubbish rather than taking it home, and you will see rubbish just about everywhere here because people dont care. if they don't care about that, they won't care about anything else…these islands are being ruined..

      • Anonymous says:

        Would love to know how you know they are "mostly" Caymanians.

        Where is your research, data, PROOF!

        Get off the "Bash Caymanian bandwagon"!

      • Anonymous says:

        I think Cayman is notably free of roadside trash. The beaches are trashed everyday with stuff floating in from the sea.

        • Anonymous says:

          I live in a lower middle class but supposedly decent development with a predominance of Caymanians and Jamaicans. Every week I have to clear out the bottles (sometimes broken), cans and fast food bags that are tossed out of the car window into my land as they drive past. It's effin unbelievable. My only consolation after many ongoing years of this was finding a substantial sum of money (presumably change) in a fast food bag. But sorry, it's not politically correct, but a certain type of Caymanian and Jamaican are just plain NASTY when it comes to things like this. They just do not see it as a problem and are quite happy to litter wherever they can.

          • Anonymous says:

            I hear you, and feel your human frustration.  I've had to fill bags of revolting things over the years, everything from fouled diapers to bloodied prophylactics, and hundreds of roadside beer bottles from people that are not only drunk while they are driving, but still engaged in drinking behind the wheel as they drive along.  Part of the price of living in the Caribbean is understanding that few laws will ever be enforced, and that sooner or later you will likely to have to rub shoulders with slobs that have no moral or ethical compass (some hailing from "first world countries" where one would assume they should know better).  If you can forgive and make your peace with that, or arrange your life to have as little contact with the latter categories, then you can get by.

    • peter milburn says:

      This is NO major surprise to me having been here for all these years only to watch our natural environment go steadily down hill with each successive Govt.Pure unadulterated greed and that all too common "dont really care attitude as there is nothing in it for me"mindset.I know that you will all wake up when our tourism product gets swept out the door but too little too late as it will take decades to bring  back if indeed we ever can.This is something I have been warning these 3 beautiful islands about since way back in the early 70's when I first started writing letters to the editor.I certainly hope that our new incoming govt will be made up of forward thinking people and not these fuddy duddys that we have had to put up with for the past 3 or 4 elections.Time will tell.

    • Anonymous says:

      When will our blind, deaf & dumb politicians come to realize that tourists DO NOT come to the Cayman Islands to see how many new roads we've built through our once pristine forest lands, how many ever taller buildings we build on our beaches or how many increasingly ugly shopping malls we plant all about the islands? It's time, in fact long past time, to institute permanent protection for our most valuable tourist attraction – the natural environment that that we've been blessed with since time immemorial!

      WAKE UP politicos, envoronmental protection legislation needs to priority #1 for the incoming government. Without it we soon won't have ANY jobs in the tourist industry because there won't be any tourists! Get you priorities right!!

      • Anonymous says:

        And with it there will be no jobs in the development and construction industry. Those who still have jobs won’t be able to afford a home as the law will drive development cost through the roof.

        • Anonymous says:

          How will the law drive the cost of building a home through the roof?

    • Anonymous says:

      The PPM didn't pass it either. The sad fact is none of the politicians seem to care about our natural enviornment.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Gibraltar may have a good law, but it lacks an environment.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Mr. Kettle, Mr. Pot here, you are looking a bit black today.

    • Whodatis says:


      Awww man … that's just plain wrong … funny as hell though!