Cayman residents Chris and Karen Luijten have donated $75,000 to purchase an area of mangroves to help offset carbon dioxide emissions created by Protect Our Future students’ travel to Spain last month.
Olivia Zimmer, Connor Childs and Steff Mcdermot attended the United Nations COP 25 Climate Conference in Madrid to represent Cayman on the climate-change front. Zimmer and Childs had attended Montessori By The Sea, which the Luijten children currently attend.
The Luijtens said hearing about what the former Montessori students were doing motivated them to pledge the money. “This inspiration behind this pledge comes from the children,” Chris Luijten said.
The Luijten’s money was donated through Island Offsets, a National Trust for the Cayman Islands programme, in partnership with GreenTech Environmental, which focusses on reducing the impact of carbon footprints on the planet through local projects.
Nadia Hardie, executive director of the National Trust, said the non-profit would use the donation to purchase critical mangrove land that will be protected for the people of the Cayman Islands in perpetuity.
Gas station Refuel has also donated $10,000 to help purchase mangrove land, according to the National Trust.
“The National Trust is deeply grateful for the very generous donation made by the Luijten family, as well as the ongoing monthly donations we receive from Refuel, all of which the National Trust puts into a dedicated land fund specifically for preserving mangroves in the Cayman Islands,” Hardie said. “Mangroves are essential for the protection of our islands as, similar to coral reefs, mangroves help reduce wave energy and flooding, which, in turn, protects coastal residents and property. Sadly, Grand Cayman has lost too much already and we are putting our islands at risk, especially now when we are seeing the effects of climate change.”
Originally from the Netherlands, Chris Luijten said that living in Cayman as an expat has made him believe that one must contribute to society, like safeguarding mangroves for future generations.
“However, $75,000 is not nearly enough to protect the mangroves in Cayman; tens of millions are needed to protect the areas that are currently under threat,” he said.
“The natural beauty of mangroves is the greatest natural beauty Cayman has,” he added.