PCA urged not to allow clearing of critical habitat

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(CNS): The Central Planning Authority is urged not to allow a developer to clear two separate parcels of critical natural habitat, one in Breakers and the other in High Rock, East End, in the absence of any development plan, given the growing concern regarding the loss of primary forest and mangroves. A request submitted tomorrow to the APC aims to clear several hectares of dry forest and scrub, as well as mangroves and seasonally flooded forests on the two lands.

But no justification has been provided for the assault on the natural environment and no development has been proposed to provide a benefit to counter the loss of this untouched land. In its opinion to the APC, the Ministry of the Environment explained why the council should not authorize the authorization.

“Speculative clearing removes the possibility of keeping native vegetation outside the footprint of potential development. It also results in the fragmentation of primary undisturbed habitat in the surrounding area, ”DoE experts said in submissions to the CPA, which will consider the requests on Wednesday. “It is important to note that fragmentation continues to affect the primary habitat, disrupting important ecological services, wildlife corridors and facilitating the introduction of invasive species on cleared land.

Anthony Powell’s request gives no details of what is planned for either of the sites he wants to clean up, and speaking as the voice of the National Conservation Council, the DoE highlighted the fragmentation as a key factor negatively affecting forests and woodlands. in the Cayman Islands because it exposes large areas of forest to damaging edge effects, including wind, light penetration, and modification.

The National action plan for biodiversity, a long ignored development policy document, explained why speculative land clearing, which is all too common in Caymans, usually to market land, is not only serious because of the immediate damage to habitat but also to long term. ultimately negative impacts on larger ecosystems.

“Whether or not a sale is forthcoming, invasive species colonize the cleared area, compromising both the cleared site and impacting neighboring plots. Speculative clearing removes any option for a potential buyer to maintain native vegetation. The proposed clearing of this property will result in fragmentation of undisturbed primary forest and surrounding woodlands, ”the DoE warned.

The DoE explained that conserving natural habitat until a development decision is made has many benefits for existing or new landowners, as it contributes to more productive soil, which attracts wildlife. and improves landscaping and shade potential. The conservation of rich habitat provides a buffer zone for future development of roads and neighboring development and helps in the management of runoff and drainage. It also offers the broader benefit to all of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the planning department’s notes to the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, officials noted that the PCA has generally expressed concern about clearing land without a development plan. However, the Applicant was not invited to appear to explain the reasons why he wished to clear the land.

Last month, the CPA granted permission to mechanically clear the mangrove forest on the North Side to the father of the Minister of Planning, also in the absence of any development request to develop the land.

See the application in the SNC Library (scroll to Powell, Anthony)

See the Cayman Islands National Biodiversity Action Plan 2009 in the CNS library here.



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