HC 846 Sustainability in the Overseas Territories

Written evidence submitted by National Trust for the Cayman Islands

Executive Summary

· The National Trust for the Cayman Islands ("NTCI") supports the position of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum for the increase in capacity building and funding to the UKOTS from DIFID, and The Heritage Lottery Fund.

· NTCI also supports the call for DEFRA and the FCO to negotiate access to LIFE+ EU funding. At present, The Cayman Islands along with other UKOTS are curtailed by lack of access to such UK and EU funds.

· In relation to the Cayman Islands specifically, the UK Government ("UKG") devolved responsibility for the protection of the environment to the Cayman Islands Government ("CIG"). However, UKG has failed to ensure that CIG implements sustainable development and protects the Island’s biodiversity.

· Neither the Environmental Charter signed with the UKG in September 2001 nor other Multilateral Environmental Agreements have been implemented. The UKG has therefore failed in its obligations to the people of the Cayman Islands and NTCI urges it to redress these issues.

· Due to the CIG’s lack of environmental policy and conservation implementation, the NTCI has been forced to assume many of the responsibilities of the CIG. It alone has raised the necessary funds to purchase terrestrial areas of significant biodiversity for flora and fauna which has contributed to the protection of 5% of the land mass.

· The NTCI urges the UKG to require the CIG to implement a conservation policy that includes conservation laws, development plans for the three islands, national parks and use of the environmental protection fund ("EPF") to support conservation.

Introduction

The National Trust for the Cayman Islands

The NTCI is a membership based, non-governmental, not for profit organization created by statute, The National Trust Law in 1987. It is the only NGO in the Cayman Islands with a mandate for terrestrial conservation. NTCI was established to preserve natural environments and places of historic significance in the Cayman Islands for present and future generations. Environmentally significant areas owned by NTCI are protected in perpetuity when NTCI declares them inalienable pursuant to the National Trust Law (as revised).

Responsibility for NTCI rests with the Council who are elected annually by the membership along with three CIG appointed representatives. The Chairperson and three Executive Officers are elected bi-annually. There are nine full time staff, one part time and one full time volunteer.

Submissions

1. How the UK Government is fulfilling its responsibility to protect biodiversity in the Cayman Islands

Recommendations:

A. The UKG should require the CIG to meet its obligations under the Environmental Charter, the various MEA’s and its obligation to the people of the Cayman Islands as set out in the Bill of Rights contained in the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009 ("Constitution").
B. The UKG should require the Governor to address environmental governance issues including the passage and implementation of long stalled conservation legislation. UKG must require the Governor to assist the UKG in discharging its responsibilities under the EC and MEA’s.

C. The UKG should require the CIG to implement a sustainable Development Plan for the three islands.

1.1 The UKG is not fulfilling its obligation to protect biodiversity in the Cayman Islands in that it is failing to require the CIG to adopt a sustainable Development Plan, enact proposed local conservation legislation and establish a system of protected areas to fulfill the obligations set out below.

(a) In September 2001, the CIG and the UKG signed an Environment Charter under which both governments committed to the preservation of our environment. Additionally, the Cayman Islands is party to a number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA’s), notably the Convention on Biological Diversity (the "Rio Convention" or CBD), the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance ("Ramsar Convention"), the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife protocol to the Cartagena Convention (the "SPAW Protocol") and Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals ("Bonn Convention").

(b) The Bill of Rights as contained in the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009 provides for the Protection of the environment [emphasis added]:

- Government shall, in all its decisions, have due regard to the need to foster and protect an environment that is not harmful to the health or well-being of present and future generations, while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

- To this end government should adopt reasonable legislative and other measures to protect the heritage and wildlife and the land and sea biodiversity of the Cayman Islands that-
(i) limit pollution and ecological degradation;
(ii) promote conservation and biodiversity; and
(iii) secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources.

(c) In accordance with the Rio Convention the Department of Environment has developed a National Biodiversity Action Plan ("NBAP") which calls for the protection of certain native species of flora and fauna and their habitats. The NBAP has not however been adopted by the CIG and is only being implemented through NTCI.

1.2 There is a draft Conservation Bill first proposed in 2000 which is intended to replace the majority of the Animals Law and has been reviewed by successive Governments for the past twelve years despite inclusion as a policy by successive political parties. The Animals Law (2003 Revision) originally protected five sites as Animal Sanctuaries, two of which have been deregulated (both of which are on Cayman Brac) and of the remaining three, one is owned by the NTCI. Despite calls to do so, no other suitable areas have been protected in mitigation of the deregulated areas. No terrestrial national parks have been legally established.

1.3 The Development Plan ("The Plan") for Grand Cayman enacted in 1977 had no environmental zones. The Plan, intended to be reviewed every five years, was last reviewed but not revised in 2002 despite recommendations to include environmental overlay. There is no Development Plan for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

2. How weaknesses in civil society and governance in the Cayman Islands impact on conservation;

Recommendations

D. The UKG should address environmental governance gaps to give primacy to environmental considerations in the Development Plan, Planning Laws, the National Roads Law, CIG conservation policies and Conservation Law.

E. The Crown owned wetlands and forests of environmental significance on the three Islands should be vested in NTCI to ensure their continued preservation as experience shows that government designation does not offer permanent protect (viz the deregulation of two Animal Sanctuaries in Cayman Brac).

F. The UKG should require the CIG to utilize the EPF for purchase of areas of significant biodiversity which should then be vested in the NTCI to ensure their protection in perpetuity.

G. The UKG should require the CIG to fund adequately the work the NTCI carries out on behalf of the CIG through the EPF.

2.1 Weakness in civil society and governance in the CI is severely impacting conservation as the only means of halting biodiversity loss is for the NTCI to purchase areas of significant biodiversity for protection under the National Trust Law while funds collected by the CIG for the purposes of protecting the environment are not being used for the intended purpose.

2.2 Environmentally sensitive areas owned by the Crown, such as the George Town Ironwood Forest which is the primary habitat for the endemic Ghost Orchid Dendrophylax fawcettii, one of the 100 most endangered species in the world [1] , remains unprotected.

2.3 Whilst progress has been made by CIG in submarine conservation, very little has been done in relation to terrestrial conservation except that over the past 20 years CIG has vested certain environmentally significant sites in the NTCI. NTCI continues to expand these protected areas and over the past 7 years alone the Trust has raised approximately CI$7million through grants and private donors for land purchase of 1093.47 acres, thereby significantly increasing the protected areas on all three islands which now stand at a total of 3,141 acres (approximately 5% of the land mass).

2.4 CIG has therefore been spared both the expense of land purchase, and the ongoing cost of management, for the majority of Cayman's terrestrial protected area system to date. While not yet sufficient to achieve the goals implicit in the MEAs, the NTCI has been responsible for the majority of progress in this area over the last decade. A brief analysis of the contributions of NTCI, relevant to the MEAs, is annexed hereto as "Schedule of MEAs and NTCI Contributions". This analysis demonstrates the substantial role that NTCI plays in the overall conservation of biodiversity in the Cayman Islands, which otherwise would fall on CIG at a considerably greater cost.

2.5 While NTCI receives a small subvention from CIG annually (approximately CI$230,000 for the 2012/13 year), it covers less than 25% of the organization’s operating costs and does not adequately represent the cost of the services provided. In addition, this funding is subject to budgetary constraints and has been cut by approximately 30% over the past two years. NTCI has written to His Excellency the Governor Mr. Duncan Taylor on 2nd May 2012 and again on 30th August 2012 outlining the responsibilities NTCI has taken on behalf of CIG and requesting his cooperation to obtain additional funding from the EPF (copies of these letters are enclosed), however NTCI is still awaiting an official response.

2.6 The Environmental Protection Fund ("EPF") was established and recorded in the Hansard as Government Motion No. 14/97 for the purposes of "...defraying expenditure incurred in protecting and preserving the environment of the Islands. " A small fee is levied on every visitor to the islands who believes he is contributing to an environmental tax for conservation. This is a total misrepresentation by CIG. Approximately CI$5M is collected annually in the name of the environment, however, since its inception the EPF has rarely been spent on the purposes for which it was established and at present, the fund of approximately CI$43 million, forms part of the general reserves and is used to meet CIG’s requirement for cash reserves under the Public Management and Finance Law.

2.7 Although this memorandum deals with NTCI environmental mandate, it is important to note that NTCI is also charged with preserving sites of historic significance. NTCI currently owns and maintains 12 historic heritage sites. As NTCI has been forced to focus its efforts on protecting the biodiversity of the Islands by expanding its protected areas, it is becoming increasingly difficult to fulfill its statutory obligations. Specifically, NTCI has been unable to fund the education programme which includes an Education Officer post and is a vital component of our environmental and historic mandate.

3. How the UKG is helping the Cayman Islands adapt to the impact of climate change

Recommendations:

H. To mitigate the impact of climate change the UKG should require the CIG to protect the Central Mangrove Wetlands ("CMW") on Grand Cayman.

3.1 The UKG is not helping the Cayman Islands to adapt to the impact of climate change.

3.2 One of the guiding principles of mitigating the impacts of climate change is to conserve existing biodiversity, and as stated above this is not being done by the CIG. The CMW, approximately 8500 acres, is widely considered the ecological heart of Grand Cayman and is the largest contiguous mangrove wetland in the Caribbean. 19% of the CWR is protected under the marine conservation law, 7% owned and protected by NTCI, 9% owned by the Crown and unprotected and 75% privately owned and unprotected. These wetlands are under threat due to planned road corridors and increased development projects and the Marine Parks Law will not prevent such developments.

SCHEDULE OF MEA’s AND NTCI’s CONTRIBUTIONS

Convention/Treaty & relevant commitments

NTCI Contribution

ENVIRONMENT CHARTER CAYMAN ISLANDS

Signed on Sept 2001

Objectives:

1. Bring together government departments, representatives of local industry and commerce, environment and heritage organisations, the Governor’s office, individual environmental champions and other community representatives:

2. Ensuring the protection & restoration of key habitats and species:

6. Implement effectively Multilateral Environmental Agreements already extended to the Cayman islands as listed herein

9. Encourage teaching within schools to promote the value of our local environment (natural and built) :

10. Promote publications that spread public awareness of the special feature of the environment

11. Abide by the principles set out in the Rio Declaration on Environment:

NTCI collaborates extensively with:

- Government departments: Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Department of Environmental Health

- Heritage organisations: CI National Archive and CI National Museum

NTCI protects and manages the following:

-Blue Iguana species through the Blue Iguana Recovery Program and its habitat (Salina and East End Colliers Reserve)

-Wetland and woodland bird habitats, (Governor Gore’s Bird Sanctuary, Uncle Sammy’s Pond, Central Mangrove Wetlands, Salina Reserve, Mastic Reserve, Cayman Brac Parrot Reserve, The Splitts)

-Sea bird nesting habitats - Booby Pond Nature Reserve,)

-Sister Island Rock Iguana species and its habitat (Little Cayman Nature Trail property, Booby Pond Nature Reserve and Preston Bay nesting site)

- Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park (50% ownership)

- Endangered and Critically endangered flora and fauna contained on all reserves

NTCI contributes to the implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements already extended to the Cayman islands as listed herein

NTCI promotes the value of our natural and built heritage in schools by:

- producing environmental and historic educational material for inclusion in national school curriculum.

- leading 60 educational events through our Historical , Environmental and Education programmes within school system

NTCI promotes the special features of the environment in the following publications:

- Weekly "Know your Island" articles in the national paper of record

- Informative articles in various publications including "What’s Hot", "Destination Cayman",

- The Trust Times, Quarterly Newsletter to General Membership and sponsors

-For the purpose of conservation, NTCI owns 5% of the country’s land mass (see further details below)

CONVENTION ON WETLANDS OF INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE (Ramsar)

Objective:

"the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world".

NTCI contributes to the country’s obligations under this MEA in the following manner:

- NTCI owns and manages the only Ramsar designated site, Little Cayman Booby Nature Reserve. Total Acreage protected: 334 acres
- Built and maintains a visitor centre on the site which is open daily and has informational signage and displays, hosts talks and bird watching groups.
- NTCI owns and manages 765 acres in Central Mangrove Wetlands in accordance with Ramsar best practice.
- NTCI owns the following fresh water ponds/pools:
3 acres at Governor Gore’s Bird Sanctuary
3.5 acres at Uncle Sammy’s Pond
17.5 acres at The Splitts Cayman Brac

CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY (Rio)

Under this treaty, the UN set a target in 2002 to reduce loss of biodiversity by 2010.

Objectives:
1. conservation of biological diversity;
2. sustainable use of its components; and

3. fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources

The Cayman Islands National Biodiversity Action Plan produced in accordance with the CBD calls for the protection of key species and habitats.

NTCI contributes to the country’s obligations under this MEA in the following manner:

- Since 2004, NTCI has obtained and protected over 1,000 acres of environmentally significant property, thereby reducing the loss of biodiversity in the Cayman Islands.

NTCI contributes to this Action Plan in the following manner:
- NTCI holds and protects a total of 3,141 acres of environmentally significant land in perpetuity for the people of the Cayman Islands. This is approximately 5% of Cayman Islands total land mass. (NB The internationally accepted standard is 12% and the Caribbean averages 11.7% per 2003 United Nations list of Protected Areas)
- several of the species listed in this plan are protected within the Trust Reserves including:

Banana Orchid, Ghost Orchid Silver Thatch, Agave Caymanensis, Cedar, Ironwood, Broadleaf, Cayman Parrot, Bats, Vitelline Warbler, West Indian Whistling Duck, Blue Iguana, Sister Islands Rock Iguana, Little Cayman Green Anole, and Red Footed Booby.


PROTOCOL TO THE CATAGENA CONVENTION CONCERNING SPECIFICALLY PROTECTED AREAS WILDLIFE (SPAW)

Objective: protect rare and fragile ecosystems and habitats, thereby protecting the endangered and threatened species residing therein by:

- establishment and proper management of protected areas, by promoting sustainable management (and use) of species to prevent their endangerment

NTCI contributes to the country’s obligations under this MEA in the following manner:
NTCI owns, protects and manages 8 environmental reserves which serve as habitats to endangered and threatened species.

CONVENTION ON THE CONSERVATION OF MIGRATORY SPECIES OF WILD ANIMALS (Bonn)

Objective: to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range.

NTCI contributes to the country’s obligations under this MEA in the following manner:

- NTCI owns, protects and manages several sites of importance to Migratory Birds such as:

- Mastic Reserve

- Salina Reserve

- The Splitts

- Governor Gore’s Bird Sanctuary

- Cayman Brac Parrot Reserve

- Uncle Sammy’s Pond

- Little Cayman Booby Pond Nature Reserve


[1] According to the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s report “100 most threatened species: Are they priceless or worthless?” published in September 2012

[1]

[1]

[1] 29 November 2012

Prepared 14th January 2013