The National Trust for the Cayman Islands has purchased another eight acres to add to the Mastic Reserve in Grand Cayman.
Paid for by private donations via the National Trust’s Land Reserve Fund, the purchase increases the area of the trust-protected reserve to 843 acres. The trust’s goal is to acquire a total of 1,397 acres for the reserve.
“The Mastic Reserve is key to the conservation of Cayman Islands biodiversity. Preserving this land is vital in protecting our native plants and animals. The forest performs many other functions; it enhances rainfall and reduces run-off, helping to maintain our groundwater and protect our reefs and it keeps the island cooler; it removes carbon and pollutants from the atmosphere, and it provides locals and visitors alike with a unique opportunity to connect with nature,” said Stuart Mailer, a National Trust field officer and Mastic Reserve tour guide.
Visitors to the Mastic Trail, which runs through the middle of the reserve, probably won’t notice the extra acreage, which is toward the northern end of the reserve. However, Mr. Mailer said every additional acre of protected land is important.
“The formerly private land could conceivably have been developed for housing or a quarry. It is now preserved,” he said.
Established in 1992, the Mastic Reserve protects the largest contiguous area of old growth forest remaining in Grand Cayman, according to a news release from the National Trust. The reserve comprises some of the last remaining examples of the Caribbean’s lowland semi-deciduous dry forest and is home to various animals and plants, including all of Cayman’s endemic orchids, trees and birds.
In addition to its ecological and scenic value, the reserve is important to eco-tourism. The Mastic Trial was recently awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2013, based on member reviews.
Mr. Mailer said, “There are countries, like England, where not a single acre remains in its natural state. In Cayman, we have preserved 843 acres in the Mastic Reserve, where most of the land is in its natural state, including the terrain, trees and other plants. They are basically growing as they were when Christopher Columbus arrived.”
Guided tours of the Mastic Trail are available Tuesday through Friday, and occasionally on weekends.
For details on the National Trust’s Land Reserve Fund or guided Mastic tours contact [email protected] or call 749-1121.