Trust sets sights on Cayman Brac’s parrot habitat

A Brac parrot. Only about 450 of the birds are thought to exist.

The recent launch of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands’ Land Reserve Fund campaign will focus on conservation of dry forest land.

The Trust is looking at acquiring important habitat that can build upon land already protected by the Trust, including the Brac Parrot Reserve. Land owned by the Trust is declared inalienable by law, meaning it cannot be developed in future thus preserving it for habitat and conservation purposes.

A boardwalk through part of the current reserve.
A boardwalk through part of the current reserve.

The Trust’s environmental programs manager Paul Watler says the Brac reserve currently comprises 300 acres of rough and rocky terrain. Hard to access by humans, it is home to pristine and ancient forest comprised of diverse native trees and plants, and numerous bird species unique to the Brac, including the Brac Parrot (Amazona leucocephala hesterna) a subspecies of the Cuban Amazon parrot that is only found on Cayman Brac.

Only about 425 parrots make up the total population, with between 20 and 60 breeding pairs. Parrot habitat on the Brac is under threat from land development and is susceptible to destruction by forces of nature, and as such increasing the size of the reserve will provide the parrots and other species inhabiting it additional breeding and nesting sites that will be protected.

Mr. Watler noted that conserving the old-growth forest areas the birds call home is essential to support their continued survival in the wild.

“We are hoping to raise funds through the Land Reserve Fund campaign that will allow us to purchase an available parcel next to the existing reserve that will add approximately another 100 acres, which will increase its overall size significantly,” said Mr. Watler.

In addition to donations to the Land Reserve Fund, the Trust is working on a funding partnership with an interested international conservation group to further increase the amount of parrot habitat that it can purchase and protect under the National Trust Law.