National Trust calls for locals to buy back Cayman Islands

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Mangroves (Photo by Omari Rankine)

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) – The National Trust for the Cayman Islands has launched a new campaign urging local people to buy back Cayman and save the islands’ dwindling natural resources from the bulldozer. Buying land to conserve it for the Cayman people so that no one can ever develop it is one of the main goals of the Trust. But it is becoming increasingly difficult, officials have said, given the high price of land here, so the non-profit organisation is asking the people to help.

Every little helps, Trust director Nadia Hardie said this week, as she raised concerns about the pressing need to buy critical habitat to save in perpetuity for future generations before it is too late.

“I am very concerned that Cayman will be looking to develop its way out of this economic slump and fill the hole left by tourism with construction,” she told CNS, as she explained that the new campaign was used by the Nationa Trust in Bermuda to great effect.

When the Trust buys land, its own legislation prevents it from being sold for development, so as long as it remains in the Trust’s hands, critical habitat will not be under threat from being covered in concrete, Hardie explained.

Worried about the massive loss of mangrove habitat in particular, she said that whether we accept it or not, the seas are rising and Cayman is low lying and flat and on the front line of climate change.

“But no one is really talking about climate change and what will happened here much sooner than people may realise,” she said, emphasising the importance of preserving the natural habitats that can protect us. “In the same way the reef can protect the coastline from storms, the mangroves protect the land from flooding.”

But it continues to be under threat. While the department of environment has now secured ‘critical habitat’ status for mangroves, that does not mean they are safe from the bulldozer. Developers frequently clear these important sites without planning permission and we have lost more than 70 percent of mangrove cover on the western side of Grand Cayman as well as a myriad of other flora.

Hardie said that with more land being bought in the central wetland area and land prices persistently rising, the Trust must increase its land ownership to save our natural resources.

“If everyone here could donate just a small amount there are enough of us to buy back some of what we are losing,” she added. “The only way to really secure and protect land for future generations of Caymanians from development is for the Trust to own it.”

Fundraising for the Trust, like many NPOs, has been difficult over the last few months. Their annual event for the Land Trust was not able to go ahead and donations to non-profits are being directed towards COVID-related projects and feeding those in need.

But despite the need to help people heavily impacted by the pandemic, this is not the time to forget about the environment, Hardie added, as she urged the community to help the National Trust buyback Cayman.

Republished with permission of Cayman News Service

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