The government has approved the uprooting of baobab trees in Kilifi County for export to Georgia.
This is after the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), environment watchdog Nema and the Kilifi County government gave
the greenlight to Ariba SeaWeed International to cut the trees in Mtondia and Tezo for botanical purposes for two years.
Eight huge baobab trees have already been uprooted and will be shipped to Shekvetili Dendrological Park Ltd in Ureki, Ozurgeti Municipality.
The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) issued the approval on November 1.
The KFS said it allowed the uprooting of the baobabs because the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as an endangered species.
It also said the baobab is not a protected tree species in Kenya and not on any appendices of the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals from the threats of international trade.
The KFS issued the permit following Nema’s approval through an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report, while the Kilifi County government issued certificates of origin and permits to harvest on October 2.
For their part, baobab farmers and proponents have indicated a willingness to trade, while Kephis issued a phytosanitary certificate.
Nema had filed a case in court to challenge the process after discovering that the trees were for export.
But it presented to the court a report on the impact assessment (License No NEMA EAI/PSL/21731) and an application (NEMA/EIA/PSR/34375) received from a Mr George Gvasaliya regarding the uprooting of eight baobab trees in Kilifi for export.
Kilifi Senior Principal Magistrate Justus Kituku withdrew the case.
Nema said it had reviewed the sites where the trees would be uprooted and issued a licence to the company.
But the agency asked the company to put in place an effective dispute resolution mechanism to address any concerns that might arise concerning the uprooting of the trees.
The letter from the Kilifi County government to Mr Gvasaliya acknowledged the receipt of the EIA, license No. NEMA /EIA/PSL/21731, for uprooting the baobabs.
“Having followed the required procedures, the department has not allowed the transportation of the trees. Approval is issued to allow Mr George to transport the produce to its final destination,” said Director for Environment Zena Mohamed.