NAIROBI, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Ministry of Environment and Forestry has outlawed the uprooting and export of baobab trees from the coastal county of Kilifi, citing violation of intellectual property rights and harm to vital ecosystems.
Soipan Tuya, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry said that following an outcry from the public and green groups, the government had discontinued further harvesting of baobab trees from arid parts of Kilifi county, a famous tourist destination.
"Baobab trees are unique species and part of our natural heritage protected under the constitution of Kenya and the state is obligated to protect biodiversity and genetic resources," said Tuya in a statement issued in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital on Monday evening.
President William Ruto had earlier instructed the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to commence a probe into the uprooting and export of baobab trees to Georgia citing Kenya's obligation to protect its natural assets as part of climate resilience building.
While acknowledging that Kenya is a signatory to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Ruto reaffirmed the government's commitment to conserving indigenous trees that sustain the livelihoods of dryland communities.
The ministry said the harvesting of baobab trees in Kilifi county commenced in late October after a private company inked a deal with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya's environmental regulatory body to allow their export to Georgia.
However, the private firm was alleged to have started uprooting the trees with a permit that was obtained irregularly amid a threat to vital ecosystems and livelihoods of local farmers and herders.
The ministry stressed that any harvesting and export of baobab and other indigenous tree species must comply with a comprehensive review and safeguards to avert an ecological disaster.