Environmental activist in Kilifi County has faulted the decision by the state and County government of Kilifi that allowed the approoting and exporting of baobab trees to foreign countries.
Gro With Us founder, Kelly Banda referred to the trend as biopiracy, citing that it has a negative impact on the environment, especially Kilifi which is already grappling with severe drought.
He spoke in Kidungu village after planting more than 5000 Mangrove seedlings.
It is not clear why the buyers only target the mature trees instead of the seedlings and why the two arms of government rushed into issuing licences for the indigenous tree without holding public participation.
“The exportation of the indigenous trees is very wrong. These trees are very important to the residents as they act as a source of income. Instead of uprooting and exporting them to foreign countries, the value addition of the tree powder and shared tourism benefits would generate income for local communities,” he said.
Banda also said that he is planning to hold a peaceful demonstration across the County to demand answers from the state why it rushed into issuing a licence without involving the residents who are directly affected.
He said the protests will start at the Pwani University before heading to NEMA offices, the ministry of environment and the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate service.
” As a youth and an environmental activist in Kilifi am going to mobilise youth to hold a peaceful demonstration on this act because we have realised there are cartels within the government who are benefiting. This exercise is not within the convection of biodiversity and the Nagoya protocol. Am not saying am opposing it but there must be adequate authorisation and an equitable benefit-sharing formula for the residents. Last week we had reports that there was a baobab tree being uprooted in Majaoni under the police watch, so these are some of the issues that will be demanding answers from the concerned offices,” said Banda.
The environmental ctivist also said that he is supporting the move by Kituo Cha Sheria in challenging the decision by the two arms of government that allowed the selling of the ancient giant baobab trees.
“We are fully supporting Kituo Cha Sheria for suing the government against the harmful act, we are still gathering facts but and very soon we will be joining them,” he added.
The lobby group before Malindi court arges that the alleged private investors are exploiting the residents who are already facing drought.
In the petition, Kituo sued the Kenya Forest Service, NEMA, Ministry of Environment, County government and the Kenya plant health Inspectorate service.
Banda, further asked the state to compensate the affected communities in Kilifi county which claims relies solely on the baobab tree’s benefits.