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Cayman Islands National Biodiversity Action Plan 2009 2.T.

1 Terrestrial Habitats Salt-tolerant Succulents

Rev: 19 March 2012


KRISTAN D GODBEER

Definition Salt-tolerant succulent habitats are areas of succulent-dominated forb vegetation (non-woody plants other than a grasses, sedges and rushes) influenced by regimes typically of high salt and temporary or occasional water immersion. In coastal areas, this may include tidal areas, or those influenced by the tide. Further inland, this habitat forms in association with temporarily flooded pastures, and moderately elevated rocky cays, often at the edges of wetlands and mangroves. The vegetation formation of tidal tropical or subtropical annual forb vegetation is known from only one location in the Cayman Islands: a land-locked wetland, tidally flooded by seawater percolating through underground fissures, in the area of Preston Bay, Little Cayman, supporting a unique, almost monospecific stand of Salicornia bigelovii. Local Outline In the Cayman Islands, salt-tolerant succulents are dominated by succulent vegetation, specifically Sesuvium portulacastrum and Salicornia virginica, which attracts a number of butterflies.

For Reference and Acknowledgement: Cottam, M., Olynik, J., Blumenthal, J., Godbeer, K.D., Gibb, J., Bothwell, J., Burton, F.J., Bradley, P.E., Band, A., Austin, T., Bush, P., Johnson, B.J., Hurlston, L., Bishop, L., McCoy, C., Parsons, G., Kirkconnell, J., Halford, S. and Ebanks-Petrie, G. (2009). Cayman Islands National Biodiversity Action Plan 2009. Cayman Islands Government. Department of Environment. Final Formatting and production by John Binns, International Reptile Conservation Foundation.

Section: 2.T.1 Terrestrial Habitats - Salt-tolerant Succulents

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Key Habitat Categories for Salt-tolerant Succulents Incorporates the following vegetation formations, as per Burton (2008b): Tidally flooded perennial forb vegetation V.B.1.N.e Tidal tropical or subtropical annual forb vegetation V.D.1.N.d. (NOTE: Due to the aquatic nature of this habitat, it is also listed under pools, ponds and mangrove lagoons). Key Species for Salt-tolerant Succulents The following are selected from the schedules of the draft National Conservation Law; illustrating some of the endemic species, and those protected under international agreements, which are dependent upon this habitat. KEY SPECIES for SALT-TOLERANT SUCCULENTS Category Detail PART 1 Birds Invertebrates Plants Plants All birds are protected under part 1, unless specifically listed in part 2. Of special significance to this habitat: West Indian Whistling-duck Pygmy Blue Butterfly PART 2 Black Mangrove Glassworts Avicennia germinans (= nitida) Salicornia species Aves Dendrocygna arborea Brephidium exilis thompsoni SAP SAP Scientific Reference NBAP

Section: 2.T.1 Terrestrial Habitats - Salt-tolerant Succulents

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Current Status of Salt-tolerant Succulents

Salt Tolerant Succulents - Grand Cayman

Section: 2.T.1 Terrestrial Habitats - Salt-tolerant Succulents


Protected Areas National Trust Land Salt Tolerant Succulents
0 0.5 1 2 Kilometers 3 4 5

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Cayman Islands National Biodiversity Action Plan 2009 www.doe.ky www.caymanbiodiversity.com

Salt Tolerant Succulents - Little Cayman

Section: 2.T.1 Terrestrial Habitats - Salt-tolerant Succulents


Protected Areas National Trust Land Salicornia bigelovii V.D.1.N.d.
0 0.25 0.5 1 1.5 Kilometers 2 2.5

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Cayman Islands National Biodiversity Action Plan 2009 www.doe.ky www.caymanbiodiversity.com

HABITAT STATUS 2006 SALT-TOLERANT SUCCULENTS Category GC Tidal tropical or subtropical annual forb vegetation V.D.1.N.d. Salt-tolerant Succulents TOTAL 0.0 33.6 33.6 Total area (acres) CB 0.0 0.0 0.0 LC 0.6 9.3 9.9 Area within protected areas (acres) GC x 2.1 2.1 CB x x x LC 0.0 0.0 0.0 Area outside protected areas (acres) GC x 31.5 31.5 CB x x x LC 0.6 9.3 9.9 % Habitat protected GC x 6.3 6.3 CB x x x LC 0.0 0.0 0.0

Terrestrial protected areas in the Cayman Islands are limited to Animal Sanctuaries, National Trust property, and the mangrove fringe associated with the North Sound Environmental Zone. The Animal Sanctuaries established under the Animals Law (1976), incorporate four significant inland pools, ponds and mangrove lagoons, (two in Grand Cayman, one in Cayman Brac, one in Little Cayman), extending to a total of 341 acres. As of Jan 2009, National Trust owned / shared ownership properties, protected under the National Trust for the Cayman Islands Law (1987), extended to a total of ca. 3109 acres. Key Sites for Salt-tolerant Succulents GRAND CAYMAN: Barkers Salt Creek Meagre Bay Pond / Midland Acres wetlands Bowse Land, North Side LITTLE CAYMAN: Preston Bay Salt-tolerant succulents are currently critically under-represented within the protected areas of the Cayman Islands. No significant salt-tolerant succulents are currently represented in the protected areas of the Cayman Islands. Nature Conservation Importance of Salt-tolerant Succulents Biodiversity: salt-tolerant succulents support a number of unique species, and often occur in association with a mosaic wetland habitat. Mosaic wetlands support a high diversity of wildlife, including birds, especially resident and migratory waders and waterfowl. Restricted range: salt-tolerant succulents are generally patchy and occupy an extremely restricted area. Many are only a few meters square, making them vulnerable to localised disturbance. Butterflies: salt-tolerant succulents support several species of butterflies, most notable of which is the endemic subspecies, the Cayman Pygmy Blue Butterfly Brephidium exilis thompsoni. This tiny butterfly is the smallest in the Western hemisphere possibly in the world. It is highly dependent on salt-tolerant succulents at all stages of its life-cycle. In its larval form, the caterpillars feed on Salicornia perennis. Adults depend on Sesuvium portulacastrum for nectar. Other: Cultural identity: the lack of species of traditional use and cultural significance contributes to a general undervaluing of salt-tolerant succulents, and their underrepresentation in protected areas. Hedonic value: occupying low-lying, swampy ground, areas supporting salt-tolerant succulents would generally be regarded as lowvalue land. Nature tourism: mosaic wetland, in its natural form, constitutes an attractive and varied environment, supporting a variety of species of interest, especially birds. Properly managed, mosaic wetland areas have significant nature tourism potential (though care must be taken to avoid trampling damage to the vegetation, by use of board walks or other defined access management). Current Factors Affecting Salt-tolerant Succulents Restricted habitat: in the Cayman Islands, salt-tolerant succulents tend to be highly restricted in area. Generally occupying dry cays within a wetland habitat mosaic, areas of salt-tolerant succulents often occupy only a few square meters, making this habitat sensitive to even the most localised perturbation. Section: 2.T.1 Terrestrial Habitats - Salt-tolerant Succulents Page: 5

Development: many wetland areas have been subjected to extensive development, whether in the form of quarrying, or canalisation and filling. As a result, many surviving salt-tolerant succulents exist in close proximity to developed areas. Obscure nature: the limited size and diminutive species associated with salt-tolerant succulents contribute to many members of the public being unaware of their presence, and value to local biodiversity. Sensitivity to visitation: salt-tolerant succulents are highly sensitive to crushing by feet of pedestrians, and by vehicle tyres. Because salt marsh flora grows in a highly stressed environment, recovery rates can be slow. Any increase in human activity in these areas needs to be managed to limit such damage. Opportunities and Current Local Action for Salt-tolerant Succulents Given the small area occupied by salt-tolerant succulents in the Cayman Islands, and its low-lying nature contributing to a low market value, purchase and protection of significant representative habitat should not be financially prohibitive. However, due to their sensitivity and dependence on specific hydrological settings, any adjacent developments which altered the hydrological regime might severely impact dependent species. As such, salt-tolerant succulents existing adjacent protected areas, or those existing within developed areas might represent the best candidates for effective protection. Given the close association of remnant salt-tolerant succulents and quarry developments, there may be potential for the modification and management of marl pit surrounds to encourage habitat restoration, and improve biodiversity value, subject to maintenance of a suitably salty surface soil regime. A significant area of salt-tolerant succulents, incorporating a resident population of Cayman Pygmy Blue Butterflies, is present to the south of Palmetto Pond in the Barkers area. Though not currently protected, this site falls within the area designated to be established as the Barkers National Park. HABITAT ACTION PLAN for Salt-tolerant Succulents OBJECTIVES 1. Update and refine existing maps of salt-tolerant succulents. 2. Maintain salt-tolerant succulents in a natural state, by allowing the natural processes which lead to their formation to continue. 3. Maintain and manage the variety of habitats, communities and species of salt-tolerant succulents, and seek improvement of areas which have been degraded. 4. No net loss of salt-tolerant succulents habitat. TARGET 2008 2010 2010 2015

Salt-tolerant Succulents PROPOSED ACTION Policy & Legislation PL1. Pass and implement the National Conservation Law. PL2. Implement the Endangered Species (Trade & Transport) Law. PL3. No net loss of salt-tolerant succulents habitat. PL4. Commence prosecution for offences involving damage to existing Animal Sanctuaries and Ramsar sites, and update and upgrade penalties for transgression of associated regulations. PL5. Promote amendment of the Planning Law, to facilitate rapid imposition of stop-orders on illegal developments and provide a responsive and effective enforcement mechanism. PL6. Strengthen the Development Plan on Grand Cayman, and develop and implement guidelines to discourage damage or disturbance to salt-tolerant succulents.

LEAD

PARTNERS

TARGET

MEETS OBJECTIVE 2,3,4 2,3 2,3,4 2,4

CIG DoE DoE DoE

DoE CIG CIG CIG

2006 2006 2008 2009

DoP

DoE CIG CIG MP DoE

2010

2,3

DoP CPA

ongoing

2,3,4,5

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Salt-tolerant Succulents PROPOSED ACTION PL7. Promote establishment of a Development Plan for the Sister Islands, incorporating a long-term vision for the environmental, social, and economic development of the Islands. PL8. Continue and improve implementation of international conventions, agreements and declarations to which the Cayman Islands is committed. PL9. Work with Department of Planning to promote and formalize guidelines for the establishment of an escrow fund to cover the costs of site restoration, for all new quarry applications. PL10. Work with Department of Planning to introduce regulations to prevent speculative clearance of land, and enforce regulations prohibiting clearance of land by mechanical means without planning permission. SM1. Use the Environmental Protection Fund to establish a protected area / management agreement with landowners to protect priority salt-tolerant succulents areas in the Cayman Islands. SM2. Purchase and protect Salt-tolerant succulents areas in Barkers, and manage access on site, towards maximising visitor experience / minimising impact. SM3. Use the Environmental Protection Fund to extend Meagre Bay Pond Animal Sanctuary, to incorporate areas of salt-tolerant succulents along the eastern shore, and prevent dumping in this area. SM4. Establish experimental site for the design and testing of techniques to restore artificial salt-tolerant succulents, and determine the feasibility of a restoration programme. SM5. Subject to successful conclusion of RM3, embark upon a programme of restoration of salt-tolerant succulents habitat to suitable man-modified areas. SM6. Implement associated SAPs. Advisory A1. Promote best practice in Development Plans, to ensure the preservation of and natural function of salt-tolerant succulents. A2. Ensure that local planning mechanisms are encouraged to take into account the wildlife interest and hedonic value of salt-tolerant succulents. A3. Subject to CP2, promote adherence to salt-tolerant succulents guidelines in relevant planning applications. A4. Work with Department of Planning to formalize an optimal structure of marl-pits, and restoration protocol for quarry applications, incorporating salt-tolerant succulents guidelines where appropriate, and promote establishment of an escrow fund to cover the costs of close-plans prior to agreement of new excavations. A5. Targeted awareness of the need for the National Conservation Law and the Endangered Species (Trade & Transport) Law. A5. REPORT: Extensive public outreach Mar-Sept 2010.

LEAD DoP DCB DoE DoE

PARTNERS CIG MP DoE CIG DoP CPA DCB DoP CPA DCB

TARGET ongoing ongoing 2012

MEETS OBJECTIVE 2,3,4,5 2,3,4 3

DoE

2012

Safeguards & Management CC DoE NT MP CIG DoE NT CIG DoE NT CIG IntC 2012 2,4

CC

2012

2,3,4

CC

2012

2,3,4

DoE

2012

3,4

DoE DoE DoP CPA DCB DoP CPA DCB NT

2015 2015

3,4 1,2,3,4

DoE DoE DoE

ongoing ongoing

2,3,4 2,3,4 2,3,4

DoE

DoP CPA

2,3,4

DoE

CIG NT

2006

2,3,4

Research & Monitoring RM1. Map all salt-tolerant succulents areas in the Cayman Islands. RM1. REPORT: (2009) Completed in NBAP. RM2. Identify and prioritise most significant areas for salt-tolerant succulents in the Cayman Islands. DoE NT Page: 7 2009 1 DoE 2008 1

Section: 2.T.1 Terrestrial Habitats - Salt-tolerant Succulents

Salt-tolerant Succulents PROPOSED ACTION RM3. Instigate the design and testing of experimental techniques to establish and restore salt-tolerant succulents areas, including seed collection, propagation and planting, and the ecology of key fauna, such as Brephidium exilis, to determine the feasibility and factors affecting potential restoration programmes. RM4. Subject to successful conclusion of RM3, investigate potential for disused marl-pits in key areas to be acquired by the Crown, for restoration of salt-tolerant succulents, and development as managed public recreational amenities and wildlife preserves. RM5. Incorporate all pre-existing and forthcoming research and monitoring data, habitat mapping and imagery into a spatially-referenced database. RM6. Develop and expand research programmes, to incorporate and target indicators of climate change. RM7. Utilise remote sensing to instigate a five-yearly habitat mapping programme. CP1. Subject to successful conclusion of RM3, increase public awareness by enabling managed access to the salt-tolerant succulents test site for educational purposes. CP2. Subject to successful conclusion of RM3, publish guidelines for restoration of degraded salt-tolerant succulents as an educational document for land owners / developers. CP3. Develop and emplace interpretation for salt-tolerant succulents in Barkers area, towards maximising visitor experience / minimising impact. CP4. Raise public awareness of salt-tolerant succulents using Brephidium exilis as a flagship species. CP5. Utilise designation of new National Parks and protected areas to promote the Cayman Islands internationally. References and Further Reading for Salt-tolerant Succulents

LEAD

PARTNERS

TARGET

MEETS OBJECTIVE

DoE

2012

3,4

CC

DoE CIG NT

2015

3,4

DoE DoE DoE IntC

2015 2010 2015

1 2 1

Communication & Publicity DoE MP 2015 3

DoE DoE DoE DoE

MP

2015 2012

3 3 3 3

NT CN DoT CIG NT MP

2012 2006

Brunt, M.A. and Davies, J.E. (1994). The Cayman Islands Natural History and Biogeography. pp. 604. Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 0-79232462-5. Burton, F.J. (2008a). Threatened Plants of the Cayman Islands: The Red List. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew: Richmond, Surrey UK. Burton, F.J. (2008b). Vegetation Classification for the Cayman Islands. In: Threatened Plants of the Cayman Islands: The Red List. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew: Richmond, Surrey UK. Proctor, G.R. (2011). Flora of the Cayman Islands. ISBN 978 1 84246 403 8. 736 pp. Kew Publishing.

Section: 2.T.1 Terrestrial Habitats - Salt-tolerant Succulents

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