Kenya has banned the uprooting and export of baobab trees from coastal Kilifi county following a public outcry over the increased felling of the unique species.
Baobab trees fetch around $3,000 each for export, prompting locals in Kilifi to uproot them in large numbers to meet the huge demand for them in the US.
According to the Kenya Forest Service, most of the baobab trees in the country are hundreds of years old.
Most of the trees have been sold to botanical gardens abroad, where they were transplanted.
Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry has reacted to an uproar from Kenyans concerned about the preservation of their environment, noting that it has immediately prohibited the uprooting of baobab trees for export, despite the fact that a private company had obtained a license from the local government to export them to the US state of Georgia. The license has been suspended to handle with biopiracy.
Speaking during a media briefing, Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya announced that with immediate effect, she had 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.”
“I am in possession of a letter from NEMA (National Environment and Management Authority) cancelling the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) license that they used to uproot the said trees,” she added.
The environment ministry moved in to act following a directive from President William Ruto on Monday calling for a probe into the alleged uprooting of baobab trees for export.
“I have instructed the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to look into the ongoing uprooting of baobab trees in Kilifi county to ensure that it sits within the Convention on Biodiversity and the Nagoya Protocol,” Ruto said on Twitter, adding the exercise must be in line with the government’s agenda of planting 15 billion trees in the next 10 years.