Kindly allow me space in your paper to briefly remind and inform the general public of the purpose, history and accomplishments of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.
The National Trust for the Cayman Islands was established in 1987 by visionary legislators who saw the need to safeguard and preserve the history, culture and environment of our islands.
The National Trust Law sets out the purposes of the Trust as follows:
• the preservation of the historic, natural and maritime heritage of the islands through the preservation of areas, sites, buildings, structures and objects of historic and cultural significance;
• the conservation of lands, natural features and submarine areas of beauty, historic or environmental importance which the Trust may have acquired through gift, bequest, purchase, lease or other means; and
• the protection of native flora and fauna.
The Law also provides that ‘the income of the Trust shall be wholly applied towards discharging the functions of and furthering the purposes of the Trust’. In other words, the Trust is a not for profit organisation.
The Law establishes a Council to manage the affairs of the Trust and gives various powers to this Council, including the ability to declare ‘as inalienable’ land acquired by the Trust. This is presently the only means of legally protecting such property in perpetuity and ensuring that it remains for the benefit of future generations. All property registered in the name of the National Trust is therefore held in trust for the people of the Cayman Islands.
The Governor in Council has over the years transferred to the Trust a number of properties (all of which were previously owned by the Government and registered in the name of the Crown) including the 623 acre Salina Reserve and the 135 acre Booby Reserve in Little Cayman. These former Crown properties (totaling some 893 acres) are now held by the National Trust in trust for the people of the Cayman Islands and have been declared inalienable, thereby prohibiting their sale in the future.
In addition to the properties derived from the Crown, the National Trust has acquired, either by gift or purchase, some 1,500 acres of privately owned property of which 228.5 acres has been purchased in the last two years bringing the total to around 2,400 acres held by the Trust for the people of these islands.
For the avoidance of doubt, the National Trust has never received privately owned property other than by gift from the landowner or by purchase on commercial terms. The Trust has no ability whatsoever to force land owners to give or sell their land to the Trust and nor does it have any ability to influence the value of land.
In additional to its land holding activities, the Trust maintains a resourceful and informative website www.nationaltrust.org.ky provides printed materials for educators and maintains and houses the National Herbarium and Insectariums.
Further, the Trust now operates a monthly schedule of events including mangrove boat tours, historic homes slide shows, lectures, traditional cooking classes, guided hikes as well as various school visits and camp activities all of which are aimed at promoting (both to the local population and our valued visitors) our history, environment and culture.
I must remind my fellow Caymanians that as our historic buildings and natural environment are lost, so is our culture and heritage. Your National Trust is the only available means of ensuring that some property is preserved for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.
The members of Trust’s Council, as well as the five members of staff, are proud of their contribution to date on behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands and will endeavour to continue the mission of the Trust.
Carla Reid – Chairperson National Trust for the Cayman Islands