Nature art show helps expand land reserve

Artist Terry Grimes has donated more than $4,000 from her art show to the National Trust for the Cayman Islands’ 2013 Land Reserve Fund. 

Ms Grimes handed over a cheque for $4,146 to the Trust, representing 30 per cent of the proceeds of her one-day art show, “From all Angles … Barkers & …” held in December at Calypso Grill.  

Many of her paintings were done in and around Barkers and depicted seagrapes, mangroves and birch trees. 

“In Cayman, more and more wild areas which are home to our native plants and animals are being cleared and developed,” said long-serving trust council member Janet Walker, who has spearheaded the Land Reserve Fund campaign for the past several years. 

“Unless we work quickly to set aside land for preservation, our indigenous species will be lost forever, and our ground water and the air we breathe will deteriorate,” she said. 

The National Trust purchases land to preserve the Cayman Islands’ wide diversity of plants and animals. 

Once acquired, the land owned by the trust is declared inalienable and protected in perpetuity. The trust protects 5 per cent of the land mass in the Cayman Islands. The goal of the newly launched “10 x 20 Challenge” is to double that area to 10 per cent by 2020 to meet international standards. 

The focus of this year’s Land Reserve Fund campaign is on raising funds to expand the Mastic Reserve, which was established in 1992 to protect the largest contiguous area of untouched, old growth forest in Grand Cayman. Through a combination of donations, land transfers and purchases, the trust has acquired more than 800 acres of its target of 1,396 acres in this important forest. 

Located in the rugged interior of central Grand Cayman, the Mastic Reserve area is of international significance, representing some of the last remaining examples of the Caribbean’s lowland semi-deciduous dry forest, and is home to many animals and plants unique to the Cayman Islands. Due to the location’s relative inaccessibility to loggers in previous centuries, large populations of native trees still survive here in numbers not found on other parts of the Island. 

The reserve features a variety of habitats: mangrove wetland, stands of Royal Palms and Silver Thatch Palms, abandoned agricultural land and ancient dry forest. Rare trees such as cedar and mahogany, as well as a huge Mastic tree, can be seen along the Mastic Trail, and in June, Cayman’s national flower, the Wild Banana Orchid, blooms along the trail. 

It is also home to Cayman’s native parrot, as well as the West Indian Woodpecker, and the Caribbean Dove, which is only seen in undisturbed areas. Butterflies, lizards, harmless snakes, frogs, large hermit crabs and nests of termites are a few of the other animals visitors may encounter. 

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