Signed in as:
Signed in as:
According to the Department of Environment ("DOE”) since 1976 we have lost over 69% of our mangrove forests in Grand Cayman. There are many consequences of their continued destruction but the three areas I want to focus on for this article is increased flooding if we experience a hurricane, scarcity of fresh fish at our supermarkets/restaurants and increased CO2 emissions.
The Cayman Islands is located directly in a hurricane zone and at sea level poses a major threat of flooding. If you missed Hurricane Ivan, the category 5 hurricane that hit our islands in 2004, the storm surge we experienced was 8-10 feet. (Loop News 2022) 95% of the homes on the island were damaged and over 8,500 cars were destroyed in the storm. However numerous studies (Loop News 2022) show that mangroves provide some protection against storm surge. What is storm surge exactly? Storm surge is elevated water levels caused by strong winds pushing water over low lying coastal areas (National Hurricane Center). However, we have a safety net; our mangrove forests. As hurricane force winds push storm water and waves inland, it flows through the mangroves’ root systems, trunks and other forms vegetation; which disrupts the speed and wave energy. We’ve lost a significant number of mangroves since Hurricane Ivan; therefore, the implications are yet to be seen.
In addition to protection from flooding, mangroves provide a habitat for an abundance of marine life, particularly commercially-fished species and shellfish. Their roots act as a nursery which helps these two species to thrive. A mangrove study conducted in Latin America and Africa, showed that almost 80% of catches globally are dependent on mangroves and other coastal ecosystems. This is proof that if our mangroves are continuously destroyed, we may very well see a decline in our healthy fish population. I’m very thankfully for the laws put in place by DOE and to Sustainable Cayman for their effort to educate the public on mangrove preservation.
Lastly, the big one, mangroves forest drastically reduce our CO2 emissions. 2.5 acres of mangroves store over 1000 tons of carbon, 4x more than the tropical rainforest and enough to offset a years’ worth of emission for over 200 people (nature.com study 2011). With global emissions on the rise, the protection of our mangroves is essential in the reduction of our CO2 emission.
I hope you are able to see how the continued destruction of mangroves will directly impact you and your way of life.
With that being said, are you sitting back quietly watching our environment being destroyed or are you attempting to make a difference?
Are you speaking to your Ministers of Parliament about sustainable development, speaking up when mangroves are illegally cleared, attending cleanups in mangrove areas, or supporting organizations such as the Mangrove Rangers or Sustainable Cayman?
What are you doing to make a difference?
Leanni Tibbetts is Miss World Cayman Islands 2022 and will be representing Cayman in the upcoming International Miss World pageant.
Leanni is a pilot with Cayman Airways and a Sub Lieutenant with the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps where she mentors and guides young cadets.
Leanni is consistently striving to become her life's motto,
“Be the change.”