Breakthrough!Jan 16th, 2009 | By admin | Category: Blues in the Local Press
Government land protected, new home for wild Blue Iguanas
A landmark decision by the Cayman Islands Government has protected a large area of Blue Iguana habitat in the east interior of Grand Cayman.
This decision is the key which unlocks the huge potential of our strategic plan to save the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. With this land protected, our long-term goal to save the Blue Iguana from extinction is now clearly in sight.
The timing is fortunate indeed. After five years of large-scale Blue Iguana releases into the Salina Reserve, the restored population there is approaching the carrying capacity of the 85 acres of good Blue Iguana habitat that is available. Now the newly protected area offers almost 200 acres more space. At last we have a real opportunity to meet our ultimate target, to restore at least a thousand Blue Iguanas to the wild.
Hand-in-hand with the local Government’s decision, we’re also poised to receive funding from the European Union which will help us to manage the new protected area for the Blue Iguanas, the dry shrublands remarkable biodiversity, and for nature tourism, education, and recreation. The EU-EDF9 grant is part of a wider project “Management of Protected Areas for Sustainable Economies” which involves the Cayman Islands, the Turks & Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.
The new protected area is to be granted to the National Trust for the Cayman Islands under a 99-year lease agreement. A protected area planning team will now be appointed by the EU project’s local steering committee, which includes the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, the National Trust, the Department of Environment, and the Cabinet Office.
This is a multi-year project, involving a huge amount of work. It is a realistic hope that by the time we have completed the EU project, the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana will no longer be the most endangered iguana on earth, and we all look forward the day when we can scale back our captive breeding effort and let nature take its course in the wild.