Conservationists up in arms over cutting down and export of Baobab trees
A group of environmental conservationists in Malindi Sub County, Kilifi County led by the Kilifi Youth President Jacinta Mbeyu, has castigated the government for allowing the cutting down and transportation of trees to Georgia.the group said that it was ironic for the government to issue permits for the export of baobab (Adansonia digitate) trees yet at the same time preach the gospel of planting trees.
The group said that the government was going against its conservation policy of planting at least 15 billion trees every year.
They now want the government to rescind the transportation licenses issued to the foreign company that is in the process of transporting the baobab trees from Kilifi County.
The government had initially halted the exercise in November last year after a public outcry but has now approved the movement from Tezo area in Kilifi County to Shekvetili Dendrological Park limited in Ureki, Ozurgeti in Georgia.
“The transportation of Baobab should be stopped and the license to the transporter revoked because it is like losing our heritage. The government through the President issued a directive to plant trees and we are planting trees but the same government is allowing the cutting down of trees and exporting Baobab trees,” said Ms Mbeyu.
Mr Victor Kaudu also blamed the Kilifi County government for allowing the cutting down of trees by issuing permits adding that the Baobab tree business was sanctioned by the Kilifi County government which issues permits.
“We are saddened by the action of our government. The Kilifi County government has allowed people to cut down trees yet as youth we are planting 200 tree seedlings every week. In future we will have no Baobab trees to show our children,” he said.
According to the Kenya Forest Service, the Baobab is not a protected tree species in Kenya and it is also not on any Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) appendices.
The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) had issued a phytosanitary certificate while the National Environment Management Authority of Kenya (Nema) gave out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) license on January 17.
“The authority is granted subject to payment of any government statutory fees. This licence is only applicable for the eight baobab trees,” said Mr Kamau.
The letter is copied to the Forest Conservation and Management, Forest Protection and Security (FPS), KFS Ag Manager-Finance and Accounting, Coast Conservancy Ag Regional Forest Conservator and Kilifi County Forest Conservator.
According to Nema, the baobabs are for transplanting in Georgia for conservation programmes and educational purposes and already, the Seven Stars, Seamless Project Cargo Logistic company has issued a public notice for the movement of the baobab trees from a yard in Bofa where they were preserved.
The trees will be moving from the yard at Bofa, where they were preserved under special treatment and conserved ahead of transportation between February 15 and June 30.
During the scheduled transportation between February 15 and June 30th, Kilifi- Mtondia- Majaoni- Tezo-Bofa beach roads will be affected.
Last November, President William Ruto instructed the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to look into the ongoing uprooting of the baobab trees in Kilifi to ensure it was within the Convention on Biodiversity and Nagoya Protocols.
“There must be adequate authorisation and an equitable benefit-sharing formula for Kenyans. Further, the exercise must be in line with the Government’s agenda of planting 15 billion trees in the next ten years,” he said then.