Thursday, October 24, 2013

New day dawns for nature

Cayman News Service
16 October 2013

As a genuine conservation enthusiast, the new environment minister is set to be a true champion in the Cabinet for Cayman’s precious and dwindling natural resources. Wayne Panton has given a commitment to pass the much anticipated National Conservation Law before the end of the year, to continue the work on enhancing marine parks, adopt the Department of Environment's climate change policy and to review and implement the CITES law. The new minister has also found money for the DoE to replace critical conservation staff and to double the National Trust’s budget. Panton has made it clear that from now on the environment will be considered before development decisions instead of being an afterthought.

He told the Legislative Assembly on Friday afternoon that preserving the local natural environment was not just about the responsibility; government has to protect the resources for future generations but it was also critically important to the tourism industry.  Read the whole story here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Governor backs environment

Cayman News Service
12 September 2013

After more than a decade of waiting, 2013 could be the year that Cayman’s natural land environment finally receives lawful protection. Minister Wayne Panton, who has responsibility for the environment, has already made a commitment to steer the National Conservation Law through before the year is out. Now the new governor has added her voice to calls for responsible management of the local environment. During her acceptance speech in the Legislative Assembly last Friday, the natural world was one of the issues singled out by Helen Kilpatrick. Although it is not part of her office’s direct responsibility, the UK’s latest representative said she was committed to the management of the islands’ natural resources.

Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie and her team have lived in hope that the National Conservation Law (NCL) will make it onto the statute books before it is too late, and they have persistently warned that the ecological clock has been ticking down for many of the islands' unique species, which are in serious danger of disappearing without proper protection.

Ebanks-Petrie has also warned that Cayman cannot continue to develop without giving the same consideration to environmental issues as it does socio and economic ones, and argued against continuing to allow major projects to begin without carrying out environmental impact assessments. Read the whole story here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The role of the environment a complex question

What’s Hot Magazine
July 4, 2013

The role the environment plays in our lives is an interesting one. It is complex. Looking at the recent split of portfolios the Cayman Islands Government has undertaken, in the same manner as her international counterparts when a new government comes to power, the coupling of the environment portfolio is often an uneasy bedfellow.

The reason for this? Well, the environment has a plethora of meanings that are not always easy to define. Let’s compare the environment and the role it has on our lives, in comparison to some of its political adversaries. Read whole story here.

National Trust expands mastic reserve

National Trust for the Cayman Islands
July 2, 2013

An additional 8 acres has been added to the Mastic Reserve bringing the total amount of land protected by the National Trust in the Reserve to 843 acres. 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 through additional fundraising for its Land Reserve Fund.

"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 the island 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 Stuart Mailer, Field Officer of the National Trust and 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.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

UWI Offering Climate Change Course

Caymanian Compass
14 June 2013

A new continuing education certificate course in climate change will be offered through the University of the West Indies Open Campus at the beginning of the next academic year.  
The programme is aimed not only at teachers and educators, but also all those involved in industries that will be most directly affected by climate change, such as tourism, agriculture, water management and construction. The programme will give participants a thorough understand of what climate change is, as well as enabling them to examine the implications it will have on their lives.  
The programme consists of four courses, which will be delivered over two semesters. Because it is conducted through the Open Campus university, the programme is conducted online, without the need to physically attend classes.  
The initial run of the programme, which will be a pilot run, will take just 25 students. No prior qualifications are required to enrol on the course and fees for the pilot run will be reduced to $125 per course. Thereafter fees will be $250 per course.  
Applications must be submitted before 30 June.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rock iguana ‘Nelson’ reappears

Caymanian Compass
6 June 2013

It’s been nearly a year since Nelson, a large Sister Islands rock iguana that was injured on a Cayman Brac road, returned to her home on the island after getting medical treatment in Grand Cayman and sheltering in a Department of Environment officer’s bathroom.

For several months after she was released back into the wild, there was no sign on the Brac of Nelson, leading those who had been involved in her rescue and recovery to worry that she may not have recovered after all.

But Bonnie Scott, who played a big role in saving the iguana, said that Nelson was spotted late last month and seems to be doing well.

“For weeks, I’ve been hearing about an iguana crossing Dennis Foster Road near the high school and today I saw it basking and got a good zoom of the beads. It’s Nelson,” she said. “I’ve been asked repeatedly whatever happened to Nelson, but didn’t know until today. I think she has been doing what iguanas should and enjoying life in the wild since, until recently, no one had seen her since last July.” Read whole story here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Environmental concerns running high

Cayman News Service
April 20, 2013

Concerns are running high about Cayman’s environment and its lack of protection according to a survey recently conducted by the National Trust among its membership. Of the 155 respondents surveyed in March, 99% said they felt it is important to preserve the history and environment of the Cayman Islands, while only a meager 3% of respondents said they felt that Cayman’s environment is adequately protected by current legislation. 97% of respondents said they believe the Cayman Islands needs more legislation to protect its environment, and 86% said they believe the Cayman Islands needs a law to protect places of historic importance.

“This survey confirms a substantial level of concern about the state of environmental and historic protection here in the Cayman Islands,” said National Trust Executive Director, Christina McTaggart.

McTaggart noted that 88% of respondents stated it was “very important” that the next Government enacts legislation protecting the history and environment of the Cayman Islands, and a further 11% felt that it was “important”.  Read whole story here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Poor grade for environment protection

Cayman 27
11 April 2013

The Cayman Islands have received a poor grade for the protection of the environment. A report from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says it’s because the islands do not have a National Conservation Law in place.

The Society gave Cayman a weak ranking among all British Overseas Territories for species protection, site protection, development control and accountability.

Minister of Environment Mark Scotland says his government hasn’t passed the law as its draft form still does not have general approval. Meanwhile, the Department of Environment says it is not surprised by the low ranking and the head of the DOE Gina Ebanks-Petrie is calling for urgent passage of the National Conservation Law.

Although the law has not been passed, the DOE says sea life is well protected under the recently amended marine conservation law.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Value of Mastic Trail assessed

Caymanian Compass
December 27, 2012

A visiting scientist from the United Kingdom has been evaluating the value of the Mastic Trail in Grand Cayman to determine exactly how much it means to the Cayman Islands.
Research scientist Michael MacDonald from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds spent three weeks in Grand Cayman in December assisting the National Trust for the Cayman Islands examine the Mastic Trail and its surrounding forest to see how valuable it is in terms of its carbon storage, water lens and tourism. 

“The idea behind what we are trying to do is look at conservation sites, for example, the Mastic Forest, to try to look at other things they provide in addition to conserving biodiversity – birds and plants,” Mr. MacDonald said. “The idea is to demonstrate the other things it provides, which we call ecosystem services.”  Read the whole story here.