We are currently engaged in an assignment at the International College of the Cayman Islands that has led us to investigate the negative impact of unsustainable development on the natural environment.
We wish to bring to the attention of the Cayman community the concerns we share regarding the current trend where huge acreages across the Island are cleared, filled and reclaimed for the purpose of construction.
We believe that the Cayman Islands is one of the most beautiful places in the world and that everything possible must be done to preserve its natural beauty, not only for ourselves, but for our children and their children as well.
There is an obvious boom in the construction industry, which to many people is a symbol of prosperity and advancement. For such individuals development is measured and ultimately defined by the presence of material wealth.
The question is, is this the true definition of development? Is this indiscriminate development of land and property, the legacy we wish to leave for our children?
Through our observation and subsequent research, we have concluded that development defined in such terms is totally misconstrued. To tamper with or to alter the way in which the environment is created, is to establish a recipe for disaster.
There have been countless discussions and arguments echoing the collective voices of individuals expressing the need to protect the environment and safeguard its natural beauty. In our research, we have discovered that some effort has gone into promoting such awareness but so much more must be done.
The National Trust as well as other kindred agencies has tried valiantly to inform and educate but to a large extent such lessons have either fallen on deft ear or just blatantly ignored by those who seek to promote self interest.
It is common knowledge that in recent years, there has been tremendous destruction of mangroves, which are an essential component of the environment. It bears significant importance in maintaining balance within the ecosystem. We are all aware many and varied species of animal life use the mangrove as their habitat. In addition, the massive root system assists in dissipating wave energy and helps to prevent land erosion.
The density and overgrowth of the mangrove forms a buffer and assist to provide protection against strong winds from storms, hurricanes, and other such events.
Much needs to be done to ensure greater level of protection to our environment. Proper guidelines for development need to be established and rigorously monitored so as to ensure that development occur in a careful organised and environmental sensitive way.
In addition, we strongly advocate that a moratorium be placed on development of property along our beaches, particularly Seven Mile Beach. Our wetlands, particularly those which are habitats for species of animal and plant life must be protected at all cost. We also recommend that effective laws be enacted to halt the reckless destruction of our mangroves.
Most visitors to our islands are excited, not by seeing huge concrete structures, but by Cayman’s natural beauty, its culture, its people; a heritage of which we are justifiably proud. We must endeavour to maintain this so as to provide our visitors with the cultural experience of visiting our bird sanctuary, swimming in our pristine waters, hiking on our dike roads, visiting our iguanas, and other animal and plant life in their natural surroundings.
Above all, every effort should be made to pass on this legacy to the next generation.