Kenya: Environment CS Tuya Bans Export of Baobab Trees

Nairobi Kenya — Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya said baobab trees shouldn’t be exported, until an agreement between the parties involved and a benefit-sharing formula in accordance with the Convention for Biodiversity and Nagoya Protocol are obtained and carried out.

Speaking during a press briefing, Tuya claimed that after consulting with the Cabinet Secretary for Roads, Transport, and Public Works Kipchumba Murkomen, they decided that the trees should not be exported because the private company that signed a contract with the communities in Kilifi lacked sufficient approval and a clear benefit-sharing structure.

According to Tuya, the process of removing the Baobab trees required sufficient consent and a clear benefit sharing structure between probate companies and local communities.

“I am in possession of a letter from NEMA cancelling the EIA license that they used to uproot the said trees,” she said.

“Consequently, I have with immediate effect instructed the Kenya Forest Service to cancel the movement permit that allowed the transportation of the Baobab trees, pending a comprehensive assessment of this case.”

The CS added that the administrative action will be taken against any government officers within the ministries agencies that did not follow due process.

She stated that in addition to the NEMA hotline, she would immediately establish a whistleblower hotline for the Ministry to aid in the protection of the environment and public discourse.

“I have also instructed the environment lead agencies like NEMA, KFS amongst others to streamline the issuance of EIA licenses, the movement and access permit, and NEMA to stick into categorization of projects in issuing the Energy Information Authority (EIA) licenses to prevent similar activities happening,” she added.

Communities in Kilifi County and a private enterprise agreed to uproot eight baobab trees for export from the Tezo area to Georgia, for which the company had requested a NEMA access permit on October 28.

While the access permit was being processed, the business proceeded to uproot the trees in an unauthorized manner.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) filed a lawsuit to have the exercise halted.

The Kilifi County Director of Environment irregularly granted the private enterprise a NEMA, Energy Information Authority (EIA) license.

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