In celebration of Earth

Camana Bay’s first Earth Day Festival brought a well-sized gathering of like-minded groups and individuals together, all keen to highlight to the public ways to become greener and save the planet. Business-owners with energy-saving appliances and ideas, as well as wildlife and animal protection, conservation and welfare groups and artisans creating home grown products, all highlighted the fact that Cayman is not only keen to go green but able and well equipped to take up the challenge. 

 

CCMI – educators of  

Cayman’s future 

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute on Little Cayman is a non-profit organisation with a mission to sustain marine biodiversity through research, education, outreach and conservation programmes. 

“Education begins with children so we focus a good deal of our efforts on them,” explains Samantha Shaxted, the CCMI’s Director of Development & Communications. “We are after all leaving the planet in their hands!” 

Thus educating children through fun activities was very much the focus of the CCMI’s booth at the Earth Day festival. 

“We are here primarily to promote our ocean literacy campaign. We’ve devised a quiz for youngsters which follows them watching a movie about the ocean. They get to take home a blue marble after they have completed the quiz to show they have taken part,” Sharon explains. 

Other child-centred activities include critter making out of recycled and reusable materials and cookie-making on a cooker powered by solar energy. 

As well as partnering with the private sector (including accountants KPMG and The Ritz-Carlton, which are big supporters of the CCMI’s projects) the CCMI has partnered with schools around the island to ensure that education is well targeted. 

“We have to remain current in our teaching which is why we have created partnerships with specific teachers at schools such as John Gray High School and Cayman Prep & High School,” Sharon says.  

As a result, students have been enjoying short stays at the CCMI, gaining a first-hand, hands-on look at conservation efforts in Cayman. 

 

Saving the Blue Iguana 

In 2002 Grand Cayman’s Blue Iguana was all but extinct. Since the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme was initiated, at the start as a National Trust project, the numbers have risen to just under 500, a tremendous achievement. 

“We aren’t exactly cracking open the Champagne just yet, though,” says BIRP’s John Marotta. “Our goal is to reach 1,000 which we hope we will reach in 2018. The new Blue Iguana reserve, which we recently acquired, has given us an extra 198 acres and this has been a great help to the Programme. It’s given us a light at the end of the tunnel.” 

1,000 is the magic number which takes the Blue Iguana off the critically endangered list, but the animal will always remain endangered. 

“There are just too many predators here,” explains Doug Bell, a UK-based conservationist who spends a good deal of time in Cayman working on the Programme. “Introduced animals such as cats and dogs, as well as fire ants and rats, prey on the eggs. Cats and dogs prey on the hatchlings and dogs and cars kill the adult Blue Iguanas. But the main issue is the reducing habitat for Blue Iguanas. They favour dry shrubland which is also a favourite for developers. As a result, unique plants are also under threat.” 

Doug says that the Blue Iguana programme serves a dual purpose, that of saving precious habitat for unique plant life as well as animals. 

“Cayman is one of the most bio diverse places on earth, in terms of plant life, maybe even more so than the Galapagos Islands,” he says. “The Galapagos are more glamorous because of their rich array of animals, but Cayman is just as rich in plant life. In fact, a brand new plant species was only recently discovered in the BIRP’s new reserve, namely the Isocarpha Oppositifolia. Saving the habitat for such plants as well as the Blue Iguanas is a flagship species approach to total conservation.”  

 

350.org  

According to a conservation group, 350 is the most important number in the world as it’s what scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Lisa Bower, a supporter of the 350.org group in Cayman and a booth holder at the Earth Day Festival, says that three years ago, after leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other frightening signs of climate change, a series of studies was issued showing that the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 parts per million. 

Everyone from Al Gore to the UN’s top climate scientist has now embraced this goal as necessary for stabilising the planet and preventing complete disaster. Now, the 350.org group is hard at work lobbying leaders to pay attention and craft policies that will put the world on track to get to 350. 

Bill McKibben is the founder of 350.org, an international campaign which has been building support around the world and inside the talks for a 350ppm target.  

“350 is a scientific number that on the one hand emphasises the damage already caused which is accelerating fast but also provides a target to aim for to secure balance in our natural environment. Promoting these three numbers is proving to be very effective in informing the important decisions to be made,” Lisa states. 

Visit www.350.org or contact organizers@350.org to get involved.  

 

Go propane 

According to Home Gas personnel Dayne Brady, Paul Gayton and Katie O’Neill, propane gas is incredibly environmentally-friendly, with 85 per cent of its emissions just water vapour, thus ensuring that users significantly reduce their carbon emissions when using propane gas appliances. A good range of such appliances were on show at the Earth Day festival. 

“There are so many ways to use propane gas appliances in and around your home,” Katie explains. “We provide a whole array of yard tools that run on gas, such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, barbecues and even mosquito magnets.” 

Katie displays the ease with which a user can employ the lawnmower, and indeed the mower is quieter than the average model and a lot lighter to use, making it far more female-friendly than most. 

The mosquito magnet is another neat propane-run appliance, attracting and then killing mosquitos from up to an acre of property. Dayne advises that Camana Bay uses these models throughout their property and that they create an effective method of controlling these pests.  

 

Go solar 

Electratech’s David Phipps and Rowan Reid were also on hand at the Earth Day Festival, highlighting the benefits of installing renewable energy systems such as solar-powered systems. 

The company offers many forms of clean power solutions and products, such as photo-voltaic and solar hot water systems and offers free on-site evaluations to prospective customers.  

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