Mastic Reserve expanded

| 03/07/2013

Black Mastic.jpg(CNS): The National Trust of the Cayman Islands has acquired 8 more acres to add to the Mastic Reserve, bringing the total amount of land protected by the Trust in the reserve to 843 acres. The reserve is home to all of Cayman’s endemic orchids and forest birds and is the main habitat for a critically endangered variety of Black Mastic tree (Termenalia eriostachya var. margaretiae), which is unique to Grand Cayman. Aiming to protect and rejuvenate a very rare habitat of great importance to Grand Cayman and its biodiversity, the Trust hopes to acquire a total of 1,397 acres, which will cost several million dollars, through additional fundraising for its Land Reserve Fund. (Left: Black Mastic by Stuart Mailer)

Established in 1992, the Mastic Reserve protects the largest contiguous area of old growth forest remaining on Grand Cayman. Representing some of the last remaining examples of the Caribbean’s lowland semi-deciduous dry forest and home to a unique variety of animals and plants, including all of Cayman’s endemic orchids, trees and birds, the Reserve has high ecological, scenic and ecotourism value.

The area of the Mastic Forest has been above water for more than two million years — as opposed to most of the island, which only emerged 125,000 years ago — so that is where the native flaura and fauna evolved, noted National Trust Field Officer, Stuart Mailer. "It's an island within an island," he said.

According to "Threatened Plants of the Cayman Islands – The Red List" by Fred Burton, the variety of Black Mastic, Termenalia eriostachya var. margaretiae (named after Margaret Barwick), was once quite widespread on the island, but by 1800 it was thought to have been harvested to extinction for its ebony-like heartwood. However, it was rediscovered in the Mastic Forest in 1991.

The National Trust maintains the Mastic Trail, a traditional path that passes through the heart of the reserve. Guided nature tours of the Trail allow visitors to experience and appreciate this national treasure. The Mastic Trail was recently awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2013, based on reviews by their members. 

“The Mastic Reserve is key to the conservation of Cayman Islands biodiversity. Preserving this land is vital in protecting our native plants and animals.  The forest performs many other functions; it enhances rainfall and reduces run-off, helping to maintain our groundwater and protect our reefs and it keeps theisland cooler; it removes carbon and pollutants from the atmosphere, and it provides locals and visitors alike with a unique opportunity to connect with nature,” said Mailer, who is a renowned Mastic tour guide.

Guided tours of the Mastic Trail are available Tuesday through Friday, and occasional weekends.  For details on the National Trust’s Land Reserve Fund or guided Mastic tours contact or call 749-1121.

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Category: Science and Nature

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Great work National Trust and we need to do more to support this great non for profit. The government should start a fund at $1 million and get private companies to match this fee. We need to preserve our flora & fauna, Barkers Park should be done similar to The Botanical Park. Land that government has seized should be built for parks, playgrounds and green areas.

    • SSM345 says:

      Cayman has and has had an "envirenment fund" to the tune of $40million for a long time.

      God only knows what is being done with it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Mastic trail is awesome! You don't need a group to get started just start at one end and go for 45 minutes or an hour and then head back. It looks different going the other way. I donb't know why it's not promoted more for tourists (except that it's free.)

  3. Anonymous says:

    When you consider that most of this land has been acquired by private donations over a relatively short time, it's an incredible achievement. It's like assembling a complex jigsaw puzzle, where each bit is owned by different people and  families. Putting this reserve together has been massively more difficult and complex than most people imagine, and the generosity of the donors, some anonymous, has been quite inspiring. Learn to love nature, and you can never be bored.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Any resident families that have not done this hike should make arrangements to do so – you are missing out.  It can be cooler in the summer rainy season and the southern areas that used to be prone to flooding now have a substantial raised wooden boardwalk (installed at great effort).  New guide books are available from the National Trust Office, and the guided tours provide valuable insight into ancestral history, medicines, edible plants, and several dangerous plant species.  

  5. squid says:

    CNS:  "Aiming to protect and rejuvenate a very rare habitat of great importance to Grand Cayman and its biodiversity, the Trust hopes to acquire a total of 1,397 acres, which will cost several million dollars, through additional fundraising for its Land Reserve Fund." … of course, that's if Government don't allow wealthy investors  or some rich man to purchase the country's valuable lands or allow them to engage in huge projects that will damage the surrounding areas. People need to donate to the National Trust, and I would like to see the Trust reserve some of our beaches from being bought out by foreignors. For who knows… the Government could just one day sell out the country completely, and then Caymanians will have no place to go to cope and be in contact with nature, but stopped at every  parcel or beach by No-Tresspassing signs. Just my two cent.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe its time to transfer title of all of our roads to the National Trust and make it a little more difficult for politicians to give them away, that way we may have saved West Bay Road.

    • Anonymous says:

      Uh, I think it’s already been sold to yooooo know whoopoo

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am a Bracker and live overseas but I had the opportunity a few years ago to see this very unique area.   It is really a lovely spot and this area is worth preserving.   Not only for our children's children but as a national treasure.   This is a very well written article and I hope that many of your adults will take the time to walk with a group and see this area of Grand Cayman.   So many of us are captivated and really into the internet, tv and other things around the house.   The house and all of those things will always be there so do yourself a favor and get out into nature and experience the birds and the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees.   It will renew your spirit and your children will never again be bored when they learn to love the great out doors.  


  7. Anonymous says:

    Good work. It’s a national treasure.