A large parcel of Crown land in Little Cayman’s east interior is among six sites on the island nominated for Protected Area status under Cayman’s new National Conservation Law.
The National Conservation Council has resolved to advance the nomination, which is still to be approved by Cabinet, in the interest of protecting the parcel’s diverse and pristine natural environment. As the nomination document notes, the lands included in the parcel are for the most part untouched and represent Little Cayman’s primeval landscape.
Adjoining landowners and the general public have until May 2 to comment on the proposed nomination before the Council presents it to Cabinet.
According to the nomination document posted on the Department of Environment’s website, the interior of Little Cayman’s east end includes open wetlands important to Whistling Duck and other water birds, a mosaic of dry shrubland, large inland ponds, and buttonwood wetlands.
“Most of the area is practically inaccessible, and there may well be more rare and endangered species there than we know about,” it states.
“The land forms the backdrop for the huge natural vista that can be seen inland from the higher parts of the east coast road.”
According to the document the nomination comprises a large Crown-owned parcel which includes substantial wetland areas, and an undisturbed expanse of xerophytic shrubland [dry shrubland consisting of plants used to living off very little water].
“The wetlands include open ponds and buttonwood shrubland, with a small area of herbaceous flats that attract West Indian Whistling Duck and other waterfowl,” it continues.
“The majority of this area has not been biologically explored, and unexplained features are apparent in the largest pond which may or may not be caused by living organisms.”
The document notes protection of the nominated land will safeguard feeding habitat for a variety of migratory waterfowl species, and the West Indian Whistling Duck, as well as safeguarding a large area of mixed natural habitats which are representative of the ecological systems of eastern Little Cayman.
It also notes that the wetland areas’ peat substrates act as carbon stores and thus have international importance.