(CMR) Sustainable Cayman has presented a concept proposal for a Mangrove Nature Park and Tarpon Alley Trail as part of an overall wildlife corridor scheme for the south sound basin, based in George Town East's district.
The project is a nature-based approach across multi-disciplinary targets of tackling climate resiliency, infrastructure needs, social development, education, health and well-being, tourism, and science. Sustainable Cayman said the project “puts the community, both young and old, at the center of its ethos, showcasing our incredible biodiversity and providing a cornerstone project for the benefit of our citizens and visitors.”
The project follows a month-long survey in March 2021 conducted by Amplify Cayman to obtain public opinion on local and global environmental issues impacting Cayman highlighted the views of the people/community and decisions made by the government regarding development.
Encouragingly, respondents felt that environmental planning and community engagement could be improved, with over 95% of respondents supporting national and neighborhood plans with effective consultation processes. The national planning framework (“NPF”) was drafted to ensure fit-for-purpose infrastructure and spaces for people, commerce, and nature are created in the future.
Area plans under the NPF are intended to implement key objectives and offer area-specific variations to meet the needs of a particular district. Public engagement is a key part of the process, and with the completion of the 7-Mile Corridor Plan, the next area plan being considered is George Town.
Sustainable Cayman wants to follow a development model similar to Sanibel in Florida. The City of Sanibel in Florida is often hailed as having progressive and effective planning regulations for sympathetic development within mangrove areas which are also supported by the real estate sector and developers.
“With our comparative climate and ecology then perhaps similar strategies and partnerships will be as effective for the Cayman Islands as we move to practice more sustainable behavior and address climate resiliency,” Sustainable Cayman stated in a release.
The proposal has been forwarded to members of parliament as well as the Cayman Islands Mangrove Rangers. Martin Keely, Program Education Manager for the CIMR, said, “This is precisely the kind of integrated project we need for Cayman. Not only does it help conserve critical mangrove habitat with all its ecological values, it also provides added natural benefits like wildlife corridors – a well established concept found through the world which will enable the species using mangroves to survive.”