CS Tuya Issues Ruthless Orders On Export Of Kilifi Baobab Trees

The CS was responding to a directive issued on Monday, November 21 by President William Ruto to her Ministry...

CS Tuya Issues Ruthless Orders On Export Of Kilifi Baobab Trees
Environment CS Soipan Tuya speaking at COP 27 on November 11, 2022. /TWITTER.SOIPAN TUYA

Environment Cabinet Secretary, Soipan Tuya has instructed the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to cancel a movement permit issued to a private company that allowed for the uprooting and export of baobab trees to the United States (US).

The CS was responding to a directive issued on Monday, November 21 by President William Ruto to her Ministry to carry out investigations into the uprooting of baobab trees in Kilifi County for export to Georgia, USA.

CS Tuya also consulted the Cabinet Secretary for Roads, Transport and Public Works and agreed that the baobab trees should not be exported until the agreements between the parties are properly regularized and the adequate authority, as well as benefit sharing formula in line with the Convention for Biodiversity (CBD) and Nagoya Protocol, are obtained and executed.

A baobab tree uprooted at the Tezo area in Kilifi North constituency. /DAILY NATION

"Administrative action will be taken against government officers within the ministries' agencies that did not follow due process," she directed in part.

CS Tuya noted that the private company as well as communities in Kilifi County entered into an agreement to uproot eight baobab trees for export from the Tezo location in Kilifi to Georgia, with the company applying for an access permit from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) on October 28, 2022.

Various reports had indicated that the trees were being sold for Ksh300,000 each.

"We determined that in the pendency of the access permit approval by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the private company went ahead and started uprooting the said trees irregularly.

"Consequently, NEMA went to court to stop the uprooting process. Seemingly undeterred, the private company obtained a NEMA Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) license, irregularly issued by the County Director of Environment in Kilifi County," CS Tuya reported.

She appreciated Kenyans as well as various media houses which blew the whistle on the constant issues of environmental degradation.

In addition, she announced that she will immediately establish a Ministry of Environment and Forestry hotline for whistleblowers to help in environmental and conservation protection.

"I have also instructed the environment lead agencies, NEMA, KFS amongst others to streamline the issuance of EIA Licenses, Movement and Access Permits etc.

"I have instructed NEMA to stick to its categorization of projects as low, mid and high level in the issuance of EIA licenses and administrative actions to follow where there is a breach of this categorization to prevent activities like these in the future," she added.

CS Tuya assured Kenyans that President Ruto's government is on course with its plan to increase Kenya's tree cover to 30 per cent in 10 years by planting 15 billion trees in that period, adding that her ministry will not condone any retrogressive steps that would derail these efforts.

An image of baobab trees. /FILE