Dragon Bay – creating a culture of conservation from the ground up

In ways big and small, Dragon Bay is putting a focus on conservation. From a recently approved mangrove restoration project at the development’s North Sound entrance to smaller measures such as recycling batteries and using reusable shopping bags, developer Michael Ryan intends to build a greener culture from the ground up. The Journal reports.

To build momentum for Dragon Bay’s “green” movement, Ryan took a multilateral approach – encouraging small, everyday changes while also embarking on large projects.
First and foremost among the bigger endeavors is the plan to restore the development’s mangrove areas decimated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Over eight acres of mangroves in the area were severely impacted or killed during Ivan’s passage and the area was left littered with debris – including oil drums, garbage and potential toxins and pollutants which pose an ongoing environmental liability to the area.
“Our plan is to clear the existing debris, and to replant, restore, preserve and manage a 17-acre area of healthy red mangroves, which is more than double the impacted area. This work will result in a 100 per cent increase in red mangrove habitat which is critical to the North Sound ecosystem,” Ryan said.  
Ryan also realised that the only way to instill a respect for conservation at Dragon Bay was to directly involve staff and owners in the approach.
For example, Ryan’s staff as well as the Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and also owners of The Residences, The DeckHouses and Secret Harbour, will be invited to be a part of the mangrove restoration project through a mangrove clean-up and planting event to mark Earth Day in April.
Looking to the future, Dragon Bay is also incorporating conservation measures in plans for the community’s new amenities and properties.
A new 18-hole Greg Norman designed golf course is planned for Dragon Bay, and will be developed in accordance with the green practices of the Advisory Council for the Golf Course Superintendents Association’s Environmental Institute for Golf – of which Norman is Chairman.
Focused on advancing the compatibility of golf with the environment, it is on the forefront of technology for managing wildfire, flora and fauna and efficiency in using water on golf courses.
The new Dragon Bay course will be irrigated with reverse osmosis –treated salt water, so that all of the water used on the golf course is produced on the golf course, and will not draw form the municipal potable water supply.
“In many cases, golf can enhance the environment,” Ryan said. “As a very low impact land use, a golf course is a green space that cools and cleans the air, and can even filter water runoff.”
The development’s long-term approaches are supplemented every day by the behavior changes that Ryan has encouraged at all Dragon Bay offices.
“We made a policy to eliminate Styrofoam and plastic bottles, recycle paper, and encourage staff to keep correspondence electronic when possible to reduce paper waste,” Ryan said.
One of his pet projects has been the battery recycling programme.
“I also started a battery recycling programme to prevent batteries from ending up in the landfill – so we collect them and I take them out pf the country by plane and contribute them to recycling programs abroad when I travel,” he explained.
This past February, 120 pounds of batteries were flown abroad for recycling. The batteries were collected from The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman resort as well as the staff of Ryan’s development and construction companies.
Further activities and programs are planned for the remainder of the year to help Dragon Bay owners and staff become a part of Ryan’s culture of conservation.
First, to decrease the proliferation of plastic and paper bags at the Cayman landfill, Dragon Bay is making reusable bags available to hotel guests at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and to Dragon Bay owners.
Many of Cayman’s businesses have joined this cause, and are selling or giving reusable bags to patrons.
“We are inviting everyone, including visitors to the island, to use reusable bags for all purchases, and take a small step to preserve the beauty of Cayman’s remarkable environment,” Ryan said.
Each owner at Dragon Bay will receive two reusable bags, and have the option to purchase more bags at cost. All staff members will receive the bags as well.
In March, to acknowledge World Water Day on 22 March, Dragon Bay will aim to reduce the usage and disposal of plastic water bottles by distributing re-usable stainless steel water bottles to all residence owners.
Additionally, all owners will be encouraged to install water filtration systems in their Dragon Bay homes – which the developer will provide for purchase and install.
To mark Earth Day and Earth Week in April the focus will be on the mangrove replanting, as well as the launch of the Dragon Bay Foundation – which Ryan is setting up to fund green initiatives at the development and throughout the Islands.
The foundation’s mission is to provide a way for the residents of the Cayman Islands, the owners and guests of Dragon Bay and the Dragon Bay development team to come together as a community to promote a healthy environment by supporting causes that will provide a sustainable future for the Cayman Islands.
“My travels to many other parts of the world have reinforced what a unique and special place the Cayman Islands is and how we have to actively engage to protect it while creating the economic activity that the people need to sustain themselves and make the right environmental choices,” Ryan said. 
A focus on marine life is on the agenda in June with the observance of World Ocean Day on 8 June.
“Among the many factors influencing our ocean ecosystems, none has a greater impact than fishing. From the inception of the project, Dragon Bay joined by the chefs of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman restaurants and the Ocean Futures Society have always made every effort to support the local fishermen and to make careful choices when buying seafood,” Ryan said.  
To celebrate World Ocean Day, Dragon Bay will promote the Seafood Watch recommendations on eating sustainable fish, which consider the fishery, habitat, species, management, and a host of other factors that affect each species.
Dragon Bay will also support the Grouper Moon Project, a grouper conservation effort backed by the Department of the Environment which studies the spawning aggregations of the endangered Nassau grouper at a site off Little Cayman.
National Threatened Species Day on September 7th will see a focus on Cayman’s own endangered species with Dragon Bay’s support of the National Trust’s Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, which the community has long been associated with through the Ambassadors of the Environment guest volunteer program.
During the latter months of the year, Dragon Bay’s eco plans include activities linked to World Habitat Day in October, National Recycling Week in November and International Volunteer Day in December. 
Ryan hopes that the plan of activities will encourage change and promote sustainability throughout Dragon Bay and beyond.
“This is a project with a long-term view of the Cayman Islands’ potential, and an understanding of the need to preserve and enhance the environment in order to achieve that potential. We also recognise the importance of passing along the natural heritage in our care to our children and grand children,” he said.