The National Trust is ramping up its campaign to raise funds to buy and safeguard environmentally important land from development, following a government decision to drop its funding to the National Conservation Council to buy land for protected areas.

The Trust’s Land Reserve Fund is embarking on an education and fundraising campaign.

“The Trust has some challenging goals to meet in order to continue preserving native habitats in the Cayman Islands where so many indigenous but endangered species of trees, plants, birds and animals live,” the organization stated in a press release.

“While development is inevitable, more and more wild areas which make up the habitats of our native plants and animals are being cleared and developed. Unless we work quickly to set aside land for preservation, our indigenous species will be lost forever.”

The National Conservation Law created the framework for Cayman’s first protected areas. Armed with $6 million in funding from the Environmental Protection Fund, the conservation council, over the past 18 months, has begun acquiring ecologically significant land to be registered for protection.

That process continues. However, with funding cut to zero in the latest two-year government budget, it is unclear whether the council and the Department of Environment will be able to meet its objectives.

The National Trust for the Cayman Islands Law separately allows it to acquire property for protection.

The press release states that raising funds for such purchases will be a priority campaign next year. “One of the main aims for 2018 is to raise sufficient funds to purchase specific areas that have been identified as being crucial to the preservation of biodiversity in the Cayman Islands, across Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. “

Christina Pineda, executive director of the Trust, said, “The team at the National Trust works tirelessly to understand, identify and preserve the areas of land that are crucial to ensuring the unique and diverse range of plants, trees and creatures that we have here in Cayman.

“Education plays a huge part in the work we are doing, and we need the next generations of Caymanians to be as passionate, if not more passionate, about maintaining the crucial balance between preservation and development.”

National Trust Environmental Programmes Manager Stuart Mailer said, “Without action, survival of Cayman’s native wild plants and animals cannot be guaranteed, but we need the help of the community.”

The Land Reserve team at the National Trust also hosts talks and lectures within schools and colleges and works with scientists to assess and identify the most essential areas of land for preservation among other projects and programs, according to the release.

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