Trust urges passage of conservation law

| 25/11/2013

CNS): Having campaign for years for government to enact legislation to protect the country’s natural resources, the Cayman Island National trust is urging the Legislative Assembly to vote for the National Conservation bill when it comes before them next month. Despite the compromises now in the final draft of the legislation, which has been changed numerous times to deal with public concerns, the Trust said the proposed law is still a major step towards conservation and the NGO welcomed the provision that will see a proper mechanism in place to manage the Environmental Protection Fund and protect the habitat of Cayman’s unique flora and fauna.

In a written statement released Friday the Trust commended Wayne Panton, the environment minister, for tabling the long overdue legislation and delivering on his promise to steer the bill through the Legislative Assembly before the end of 2013.

“We urge the government to pass this Bill into law without delay,” the Trust stated.
Describing the legislation as a balance between the need to preserve Cayman’s fragile environment and the socio-economic needs of the islands and development, the Trust pointed to the significant amount of debate on the law.

“There has been much public consultation over the past ten years and the Bill has gone through many changes in order to address the major concerns which have been raised.  Whilst there have been compromises on some of the environmental components, the Trust believes that this Bill is a major step towards strengthening the national environmental policy,” it said.

“The National Conservation Law will complement the Trust’s ongoing environmental conservation work. This is based on the widely accepted principle that the most effective way to protect biodiversity is to protect its habitat,” the NGO said.

With Cabinet backing the legislation and the government’s back-benchers also on board, the environment minister should be able to get the votes needed but both the opposition leader and the two independent members are still against the legislation, despite the wide consultation and the numerous changes to the bill that have addressed the concerns raised by those opposed to the need to properly protect the islands dwindling and threatened natural resources.

From the Silver Thatch Palm to the Cayman parrot, with the exception of the blue iguana, no other living creature or plant on land is protected. More importantly, the sensitive and threatened habitats in which some of Cayman’s seriously endangered species depend, such as the type of forest the ghost orchid needs, have no protection.

The law will see the creation of terrestrial protected areas, a formal list of protected endangered species, the requirement of consideration of the environment before development and the establishment of an environmental council. It will also empower conservation officers to make arrests when people break the law.

In addition to the Trust statement, Cayman’s newest independent conservation group, Sustainable Cayman, is using its Facebook page to explain the law and address some of the myths that persist, particularly with regards to government taking people’s land. There are no compulsory purchase powers in the law and any land that government wants to designate as sensitive habitat will be done so through an agreed purchase or some form of assisted management.

See more about the conservation law on the DoE site or on the Sustainable Cayman Facebook page.

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  1. Green Hornet says:

    So, we finally get a watered down piece of legislation that after 13 years of tinkering barely meets any of the real criteria of world conservation goals – and yet most of these responses are ridiculously ignorant and ill-informed. Many in Cayman joke about Central American countries and yet they have an environmental and ecological track record of protection and cvonservation that make us a laughing stock.

    This law – by the time every landowner has had his or her input (not to mention those who develop for profit and profit only – to hell with the envirpnmental damage they do) doesn'teven require preservation or critically sensitive habitat in private ownership. You can still chop, burn, fill, trash your land and if it's and ecological treasure nobody can stop you. It doesn't go far enough, in my humble opinion…

    And it is easy to see now who controls the "new" Compass from its latest ediitorial rant. The guys with the big bucks who haven't even read – let alone understood – this rather feeble law. Following in the well trodden footsteps of the US media (now owned over 75% by a few mega corporations fronting the Ruper Murdochs of the world) the Compass goal has now shifted way to the corporate right. Let's see what its real owners come up with next!

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said Green Hornet!  At least the Law is a step in the right direction but we have a long way to go.  The Editorial in the Compass was very disappointing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    The point is that a person who owns swamp has to be careful because you just can't develop it the way you want . First of all you need to pay for an EIA. Second depending on the size of the property it could be very expensive. So most people are going to have  to sell it. Well it depends on the developer ,If he has the time or money. Then of course if everything is not correct ,no sale. National Trust does not have enough money to buy all it wants to control. Which should mean they shouldn't have any say. One would have to ask , Where is the money that was given to Gov't? Wasn't it the UK ? Around 40,000,000??

    • EarthAngel says:

      This is not the case! The people of the Cayman Islands and then utlimately Cabinet will decide what is to be designated "critical habitat" under the proposed law.  This means that EVERY ONE will have a say in the matter and the Govt will not simply just blindly dictate to private land owners.

      Essentially, for private land to be designated as a critical habitat, all stakeholders especially the private land owner, will have to have to agree to this designation before it can happen.  The Bill in its current form (as opposed to previous versions) actually ties the hands of the Govt more and gives more power back to the people. For any critical habitats to be designated, the public will have to be consulted before it even goes to Cabinet. Cabinet is unlikely to designate any area a critical habitat that does not have public support, so there are safeguards built into the law to prevent interference with private land owners' rights!

      Get familiar people. Stop the misinformed madness!

    • Anonymous says:

      why would you buy swamp anyway?

  3. EarthAngel says:

    After 10 years, it is alarming how many people are still commenting from a place of ignorance on this subject.  Please understand that the Conservation Law will not prohibit development in the Cayman Islands, nor will it give Gov't powers to take people's land or tell them what they can and cannot do on their property.  People seem to be missing the point that the Law will conserve environmentally important CROWN land!

    The planning laws have a lot more say over what happens on privately held land than this law does, so do not just swallow the misconceptions that have been perpetuated by opposers who have not even read (and if they have read it, not understood) the Bill.

    Why would anyone oppose a law that seeksto protect important parts of Cayman? Over the past decade, this Bill has gone through many iterations after taking all concerns (from regular, average people, developers and environmentalists alike) on board. 

    Educate yourself before you just start blindly commenting. Find out for yourself before you just condemn the Govt for trying to do the right thing.  This is finally a chance for us to support something worthwhile, yet in typical Caymanian fashion we are just tearing it down before understanding the tremendous benefits of the proposed Bill in the first place.

    If you don't understand, ASK QUESTIONS – but don't purport to be an expert and continue to carry on misleading statements. Thanks to CNS, who is slowly becoming the better paper of record on the island, for giving a balanced view of the Bill.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Everyone should watch CIG Channel & see a replay of Mr. Martin Keely's report on the development in Cayman & destruction of mangroves & some of the drastic results that this island is suffering now and future results.  You maybe shocked as he shows pictures of the dredging  etc that is taking place!  All our swamps are being destroyed and people are calling it stupid swamp land – well just wait a little longer and see what /who is really stupid or worthless!! 

    • Anonymous says:

      A very good suggestion – ALL GOVERNMENT Members should watch this over and over until it soaks in their brain properly  and along with the Minister responsible for Environment  try to protect this Island for our children and grand children. Don't be little scared ducks afraid of the big shot investors who try to bully everyone and then tell Caymanians they can't even go on the beach near their hotel or condominium.

      Wake up Leader of DOE and all those in charge and get out there andsee what''s going on and don't let them destroy all our ponds and mangroves or we all will be swimming in the North Sound trying to get to some other island and it won't be D …. land!!



  5. anonymous says:

    Hope you guys dont mind goingback to eating cassava and wild rabbit (oops, they may be protected too)  Lord help us!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Who will represent developers and business? We cannot eat mangrove stew. 


    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe they don't need any help, I'm sure some will just ignore it, like they ignore planning and common sense now.  Large parcel of land? Best clear that of allvegetation, tarmac a strip of 100 feet, build one house and sell the rest to some fools, move on to the next and do it all again.  No matter the plots stay empty for years, or that Cayman can't possibly build that many houses or that it makes everything look bad, as long as they get their couple of dollars to splurge on a new truck and a few years living high. 

      Believe it or not developers in countries with far stricter rules and regulations still manage to make a lot of money.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is like the Contractors Association saying it agrees with Government waiving work permit fees for capenters and masons…of course they will support it.  There is too much gray area in this bill for it to fly.  It would be a sad day if Wayne leads these new politicians down this dark road.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Caymanian Compass has come out with an editorial against it, so that tells me straight away that the plan has merit.

  9. Anonymous says:

    So did Mr Ryan ever replace any of the mangroves that he tore out at the Ritz's new development & is the developer along South Sound doing any such work, or they both did untold environmental damage for financial gain & have got away with it? As usual.

  10. Anonymous says:

    So the scorpions that find their way into my home and can sting my young child, what do I do with them now?! I will start collecting them in a mayo jar and drop them off to the ministers house then! This is stupid, protecting scorpions!!! This is just another prime example of how Cayman operates. We go from one extreme to the next.

    • Anonymous says:

      Assuming you are not a troll … you stomp on them. (search ‘scorpions’)

      Stupid is assuming and not reading.

    • Anonymous says:

      I take it you read the law before parroting this non-sense about scorpions, you do realise it's protecting a very rare scorpion only found in Cayman, not the common or garden variety and even then if you killed one you still wouldn't be prosecuted, hardly impacting your scorpion problem is it?

      You are aware that currently you could cut down every ironwood tree and ghost orchid and pave over the lot without any problem. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I bet you enjoy the editorial content of Fox News.

    • Caymaniam says:

      So you live in Little Cayman and your kids spend all day digging in the dirt do they?  Get the facts before your swallow the scare tactics. Otherwise shame on you for spreading them.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you can catch and release every 5th time your little dear is stung.