The National Trust for the Cayman Islands’ (NTCI) Land Reserve Fund was created to acquire environmental sites that are ecologically significant or are critical habitats for native wildlife, and that provide ecosystem services for the people of the Cayman Islands. The NTCI currently protects 6% of critical habitats, and it aims to acquire 11% of significant environmental habitats across all three islands to preserve Cayman’s unique biodiversity. Land acquired by the NTCI is legally protected in perpetuity for the people of the Cayman Islands.
Words by Natasha Were. Photography by Omari Rankine.
WHAT AREAS OF UNDEVELOPED LAND DOES THE NATIONAL TRUST CURRENTLY OWN, AND WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT THESE?
The Mastic Reserve was established in 1992 to protect the largest contiguous area of untouched, old-growth forest in Grand Cayman. The Reserve is of international significance, representing one of the last remaining examples of Caribbean lowland, semi-deciduous dry forest, and is home to a wide variety of animals and plants unique to the Cayman Islands.
The Booby Pond Nature Reserve and Rookery Ramsar site in Little Cayman is a land-locked saltwater lagoon that provides habitat for many types of wetland and shorebirds and a high diversity of native plants. It is the only breeding site for the Red-footed Booby in the Cayman
Islands and is home to one of the region’s largest colonies of resident Red-footed boobies.
The Brac Parrot Reserve encompasses 282 acres of pristine, ancient dry forest whose trees support breeding pairs of the Cayman Brac Parrot and other forest birds. In the winter months, it is also filled with neotropical migrant songbirds.
Other protected natural areas include portions of the Central Mangrove Wetland, Colliers Wilderness Reserve, Governor Gore’s Bird Sanctuary, land bordering Malportas Pond, and the Salina Reserve, a mosaic of almost entirely undisturbed habitats that is home to nearly every living organism in Grand Cayman, including our endemic Blue Iguana.
WHAT ADDITIONAL SITES WOULD THE NATIONAL TRUST LIKE TO PROTECT AND WHY?
We recently procured a parcel of untouched ancient forest near the Botanic Park entrance, and in the future, we hope to acquire pieces of the Central Mangrove Wetland and a tract of land considered the heart of the Mastic Trail.
Purchasing additional properties around existing Reserves will allow the NTCI to ensure these areas are fully protected. We also look for new areas of prime habitat that require protection and land parcels of high value as wildlife corridors to support endemic species.
HOW DOES THE LAND RESERVE BENEFIT THE PEOPLE AND WILDLIFE OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS?
Protecting natural areas preserves Cayman’s biodiversity and ensures a home for local wildlife.
It also gives people the opportunity to experience wild places, benefit their physical and mental health, and preserve Cayman’s cultural heritage, which is inextricably linked to our natural world.
WHAT DOES THE LAND ACQUISITION PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
A landowner may approach the National Trust, or we may see a parcel for sale that represents an important natural ecosystem. If we have raised sufficient funds through donations, fundraising efforts and events, we then agree to procure the parcel.
CAN INDIVIDUALS DONATE TO OR VOLUNTEER WITH THIS ASPECT OF THE NATIONAL TRUST’S WORK?
Individuals and corporations are encouraged to donate to our Land Reserve Fund. Simply visit our website and click on ‘Get Involved.’
In addition, US citizens or companies based in the US interested in a tax-deductible donation to fund mangrove protection have the unique opportunity to support the NTCI Land Reserve Fund through ‘Island Offsets’. They partner with a 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation in the US. No matter how small, every contribution helps us preserve what makes the Cayman Islands unique for present and future generations.
For more information about the Land Reserve Fund and other NTCI programmes, contact Annick Jackman, Executive Director at The National Trust for the Cayman Islands: