One of the last remaining stands of red mangrove trees on the South Coast of Grand Cayman has recently been severely compromised and probably destroyed.
Trees have been bulldozed and a sizable stretch of quarried rock has been put down along the edge of the coast, cutting the remaining mangroves off from the tidal flushing that is necessary for their survival.
‘We have been to the site and are investigating, said Planning Department Compliance Officer Kim Smith. ‘We are trying to determine if they had planning permission to do this work and we will be making contact the owners of the property.’
Enforcement Officer Ronnie Dougal, from the Department of Environment explained that ‘a member of the public brought the situation to his attention last Friday and scientists from the Department of the Environment have been down to do assessments.’
The Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said the Department ‘is very concerned about what has happened and once the facts are known, a statement will be made. She added that the red mangroves are in a Marine Replenishment Zone and they are clearly important for the health the marine environment in the Park.’
Members of the public driving down South Road are not likely to be aware of the clearing because the work is concealed behind bushes along the road.
The access point for the bulldozers and trucks is a fairly inconspicuous area beside a large coastal property, a chain prevents access.
The only remaining examples of Red Mangroves on the South Coast are now those at the beginning of Old Prospect Road and a few babies (propagules) that were planted by the Department of Environment.
Most of these small mangroves were swept away in Hurricane Dean because they had not yet established sufficient root structure to remain in place.
Last month, Leader of Government Kurt Tibbetts said the Planning Department and the Ministry would be re-visiting the issues of coastal set-backs and buffer zones to determine if they were still adequate and appropriate.