Colliers Wilderness Reserve is a National Trust for the Cayman Islands protected area in the district of East End.
According to the National Trust, the European Union’s BEST program, a grant funding scheme focusing on biodiversity and ecosystem services which is available to overseas territories of EU member nations, allowed for the establishment of the reserve.
“The National Trust has partnered on a few BEST grant projects with other Caribbean countries, concluding an effort in 2014 which focused on Blue Iguanas,” Trust environmental programs manager Paul Watler noted earlier this year.
“As part of the project, the Trust was able to partner with the Cayman Islands Government to secure the 190 acre Colliers Wilderness Reserve, which represents ideal habitat for Blue Iguanas.”
Aside from providing a home for Cayman’s blues, a walking trail on the reserve allows visitors to get a close-up look at the plants and animals inhabiting Cayman’s pristine interior.
“[At] Colliers Wilderness Reserve, you can see many of Cayman’s original growth native plants from an easy walking path and in a relatively short space of time,” said naturalist Ann Stafford, who leads tours through the reserve through her company, CaymANNature Tours.
She noted that while large in size, Colliers features a short, easy-walking loop trail through original-growth dry rocky woodland known as phytokarst where many different species of Cayman’s plants may be seen – trees, shrubs, vines, cacti, orchids, and mistletoes, which are called Scorn-the-Ground in Cayman. The area also features fungi, lichens, birds and other creatures.
Phytokarst, she explained, is pinnacle rock of the Cayman Formation dolostone (limestone with magnesium).
“Roots of trees and shrubs penetrate through the rocks to get water,” she said.
“The roots secrete acids, and microbes bore their way into dolostone to produce the sharp, grey-black weathered surface of the jagged pinnacles which contrasts with the white colour of the unaltered host rocks.”