Why are trees being cut down on the beach?

| 19/10/2018

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian statusI refer to a reader who asked: “And why the hell did they cut down those shady pine needle trees that were near the water on the beach side?” Aren’t SMB and everything on it protected by law? Who and why had cut those trees down? Who permitted the action? SMB is a national treasure and the only attraction of immense value in Grand Cayman. One would think it should be guarded as such.”

Auntie’s answer: It turns out this question was one for both the Department of Environment (DoE) and the Department of Planning.

Regarding your question about legal protection for the beach, a DoE official said, “No, Seven Mile Beach and everything on it is not protected by law. In fact, Seven Mile Beach and everything on it, like most of the land in the Cayman Islands, is private property and the owners have an expectation that they can do whatever they want with it within the bounds of the Planning Law.”

And that includes chopping down any trees on the land and, the official added, “You don’t need a permit for clearing land by hand. You do need a permit from the Department of Planning if clearing land by mechanical means, like with a bulldozer. This permission is often included in other permits to develop a piece of property.”

A planning official who looked into this case noted that he had reviewed the department’s records and did not see any “reports of large-scale clearing of trees on the beach and would suspect that the tree removal would be in line with general property maintenance and so would not require planning permission”.

In addition, the official addressed the specific type of tree that was cut down, saying he believed the tree in question was the Casuarina or Australian Pine, which “is frequently found along the coastline throughout the island, and which have been classified by the DoE as an invasive species”.

He added that he believed the DoE continues to “encourage their removal in favour of allowing more native species to repopulate the coastline”.

The DoE representative confirmed that to be true, but also had some advice for people who are dismayed by the removal of trees. “If people think that there are particular restrictions that should be placed on what people can do with their land, or disagree with that idea, the Planning Department is just launching a Development Plan review so there is no better time to make your voice heard.”

The DoE official also suggested organising with friends so you can “speak together with a greater voice”.

There is more on this topic in the DoE magazine, Flicker, edition number 11, which you can find online on the DoE website.

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Category: Ask Auntie, Environmental Questions

Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If they are allowed to remove them they should be required to replace them with something indigenous.
    (I hate those horrible Casaurina’s.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    What native species of pine tree that Cayman have?

  3. helen says:

    Those pines are VERY invasive and can quickly spread crowding out native plants that wildlife depends on and have no benefit from the Casuarina.

    • Anonymous says:

      What’s your problem10:46 ? I’m in my mid sixties and they were never a problem then ,I used to get my kids Xmas trees from them . I’m so tired of people destroying everything that is cayman ,,cha man ,go find something to do .

      • Anonymous says:

        one problem is nothing grows under them. they also dont look tropical. i agree we should keep the really big ones because we dont have many big trees of any kind.

      • Anonymous says:

        The problem is they are an introduced species and are invasive. The other issue is they are messier than the average tree.