Editorial for 14 May: Conservation needed here

Whoever makes up the new government following elections next
week, we hope that one of the first things they do is address the proposed
National Conservation Law.

If they can’t get this legislation approved, they can at
least release some of the more than $43 million in the Environmental Protection
Fund to the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.

With the money, the trust could help establish a system of
protected areas to help ensure the long-term survival of Cayman’s unique
animals, habitats and plants.

When the fund was established in 1997, it was intended to
protect lands by buying them from landowners. It was also intended that the
fund would be managed by independent trustees, but today the money still is
part of the government’s overall reserve in its annual budget.

Instead of being used to conserve our flora and fauna, the
money has been used on roads and operational costs of some government
departments.

Not having a conservation law is also hampering efforts of
the Department of Environment and the National Trust to attract overseas grants
for donations for conservation projects here.

While the National Conservation Law may need to be tweaked,
our new government must do something about protecting our environment through
legislation.

This proposed law has been discussed and rehashed time and
time again.

Politicians don’t want to anger potential voters by passing
a law that constituents see as government taking away rights.

What everyone needs to do is familiarise themselves with the
proposal and have good, honest and frank discussions about the pros and cons of
the bill.

It’s very rare that any piece of legislation gets approved
without debate. That’s why we elect lawmakers; to make the best decisions for
our country by looking at all angles of proposed laws.

The longer we linger on adopting a conservation
law, the more damage we’re doing to our environment. And that is the bread and
butter of our government coffers when it comes to tourism.

 

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