Letters to the Editor: NCL: A saviour or savage?

Like clockwork every few years up
comes a familiar nightmare; the National Conservation Law.

It spins the same message through
districts with the same players and their well rehearsed skits, with updated
costumes and makeup. It has become comical- like a spoiled child who needs to
be noticed banging a drum, demanding to be given attention. Soon everyone
becomes fed-up with the dated illogical rhetoric and so it is locked back into
its room for bad behaviour.

I for one think our historic
natural environment deserves better. We spend millions each budget year on
developing strategies to manage and police our natural environment. Yet we
still have not been able to produce a National Conservation Law that gets our
people respect and our community involvement. That is a failure of our approach
not our people.

We can all use Google – and a few
minutes read will tell you conservation will only work if the natural
environment it seeks to influence and preserve puts paramount the inhabitants.
People are the key to conservation and sustainable development. Not laws and
surely not a drum-banging lobby of reject hippies from the four corners of the
globe.

Yet every minister of the
environment we vote in cannot get this basic fact through his head. The current
form of the proposed National Conservation Law does not work! So we pay
attention to the spoiled child for one more political term and out goes the minister
and in comes another. And the sad cycle repeats itself.

We need to stand up and take back
our natural historic environment management as it is evident this now two
decade old model has not worked. It is our people who are the key, yet there is
no advocacy for their well being. No advocacy for building a harmony between
the existence of Heteronebo caymanensis (a scorpion I often pay the
exterminator to kill), which according to the proposed conservation law, you
can be arrested by machine gun toting environment enforcement officers,
detained  without due process – should
Heteronebo caymanensis be killed in an attempt to ensure the safety of our children
in bed.

Back to Google again –  read what works for community based environmental
advocacy. It is simple, give the people the tools and the support to live
within their historic natural environment and plan an advocacy role of providing
environmentally friendly avenues of sustainability and you can very soon see
the benefits.

Protecting our historical natural
environment is not a profession to be guarded and defended; it is not an
academic research paper to get you to another expenses paid conference.
Protecting our historical natural environment is about offering our Caymanian
people the opportunity to participate in the conservation of their environment
hand in hand with the demands and constraints of living in today’s ever
changing world.

We need to desperately break this
savage attitude to the conservation and preservation of Cayman’s historic
natural environment and put it in the hands of our people for reasonable and
achievable quality of life conservation goals.

What is being proposed has such far
reaching implications for the continued harmony of our traditional communities
that unless a new and fresh approach to developing conservation polices in this
country is not taken we will never get the balance right.

We need to start at a level playing
field with the core attitude being one of community advocacy not a series of
empire building, police state socialist ideals.

We need a true and honest dialogue
about what is possible for our communities to support in light of the demands
for development and sustainability

We need an equal role of advocacy
and resources for our community and district based people focused conservation
and preservation groups

We need an earnest approach to
community conservation engagement that will support a process of developing
conservation goals that compliment the growth and prosperity of our
communities.

We do not need another 10 years of
a spoiled child banging a drum to show off their new costumes and to be silenced
by stuffing their open mouths with more hard to come by public funds.

We do not need for our Conservation
Law to be locked away again for another political term. What we need to develop
is a new attitude for getting this important balance on conservation back into
being what has traditionally been a Caymanian way of life.

That’s the challenge I wish our
current minister of environment would champion and break this sad cycle.

Our communities are worth us making
a better effort!

Harris McCoy

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