Mangrove Ecosystems in Caribbean SIDS: Cayman Islands
Mangrove ecosystems are home to a variety of species
The Cayman Islands are three low-lying limestone islands with a total mangrove forest coverage of at least 78.3 square kilometer.
Their natural ration of mangrove forests is very high, exceeding 30%, a figure that demonstrates the importance of mangroves on a national scale, especially for its rich and diverse bird-life, but also for fisheries, as well as for ecotourism above and below water. Mangrove ecosystems in Cayman Island are home to a variety of species such as parrots (nesting in hollow dead mangrove trees); the West Indian whistling duck, egrets and herons along with other resident waterfowl, yellow warblers, vitelline warblers, and a diversity of migratory birds; several crab species; and at the interface with the sea, a dazzling diversity of marine life.
Mangroves protect against natural hazards
Mangroves have several important functions in protecting against natural disasters and mitigating climate change.
Mangrove climate actions include:
- sequestering carbon in the atmosphere;
- reducing wave energy at the coast, thereby reducing inland flooding and property damage along mangrove coasts;
- supporting the local artisanal fisheries through the recreational value of wild mangrove coasts.
The Cayman Islands Department of Environment leads the expansion of the national terrestrial and wetland protected areas, including mangroves ecosystems. The National Conservation Act provides formal protection and management of Crown land, private land purchased by the Government, and through Conservation Agreements with private landowners. The entity also works to improve measurements to better quantify the carbon storage and sequestration rate of the extensive mangrove wetlands.