The initial stages of Cayman’s prolonged National Conservation Law may come into effect within weeks, according to Wayne Panton, minister of environment.
“I was hoping within the next couple of weeks to have the commencement order to Cabinet,” said Mr. Panton. The law requires an order from Cabinet before it can be enacted.
The National Conservation Bill, which went through several iterations over the last decade, was passed by legislators in December. Last month, two minor amendments to the Animals and Plants Laws paved the way for the implementation stage of the conservation law to get under way.
Mr. Panton said that within the Cabinet paper for the implementation of the National Conservation Law, 2013, there will be a request to appoint members of a newly established National Conservation Council.
He further explained that the law would be enacted in stages. “Cabinet may bring the law into effect in part or in whole and, if it’s in part, it can be at different times,” he said.
The National Conservation Council is appointed by Cabinet and will consist of 13 voting members. The council will be in charge of overseeing and enforcing the conservation law.
According to the law, “The Council shall, no later than three months after the end of the financial year, prepare and submit to the Minister a report of its activities during the preceding year.”
The law also states that once the council is formed it “may appoint advisory committees consisting of members of the Council, representatives of districts and persons with knowledge and experience of conservation issues to assist it in the performance of its powers and duties.”
Once enacted, the law will provide protection for endangered and endemic species and their habitats, require consideration of the environment on planning issues, and give new powers of arrest to conservation officers.
Among some of the protect species listed in the law are the endemic and critically endangered Ghost Orchid, the blue iguana, all species of bats, and the Pygmy Blue butterfly.
The law also allows government to set up an Environmental Protection Fund to provide capital for its projects, including buying land for conservation purposes or surveying endemic species.
There has been no indication from government of a timeline for full implementation of the bill.