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Cayman's Mangrove Population Recieves Boost
Cayman's mangrove population has received a boost thanks to a new restoration project by the Department of Environment.

The first phase of the project is now complete with the planting of more than 800 reef ball units containing thousands of mangrove seedlings.

DoE Assistant Director Tim Austin said that with approximately 860 "reef balls" of seedlings planted in pots made out of marine-based cement, the young mangroves are protected against storms and have a better chance of surviving.

It is hoped, Mr. Austin said, that this technique will be established to restore other areas that were damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. These areas include, but are not limited to, North Side Public Beach near the Kaibo, and South Sound.

The project, which started in November 2006, was assisted by many school and civic groups, who collected and planted thousands of seedlings. His Excellency the Governor, Mr Stuart Jack, accompanied by his wife, Mariko, planted the last seedlings on Friday, January 19.

The project was sponsored by US Fish and Wildlife Service's Neo-tropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act for its practical contribution towards the restoration of migratory bird habitat.

The DoE has worked with the Reef Ball Foundation (who manufactured the reef balls overseas) to build a red mangrove nursery at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club in Red Bay. The Sailing Club is a Darwin Initiative partner and donated the use of the site for the mangrove nursery.

When the seedlings have reached a reasonable size, DoE Research Officer James Gibb said they will be transported to areas in need of mangrove restoration. This will head-start the restoration of the coastal mangroves, and encourage the re-establishment of mangrove habitats before the next hurricane season.

The DoE is currently obtaining the moulds for the reef balls, so that, if the project is successful, they Department will be in a position to build more reef balls on island, rather than having to import them from overseas.

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