The Government has approved the export of baobab trees which was controversial, from Kilifi to Shekvetili Dendrological Park Ltd in Ureki, Ozurgeti Municipality, Georgia.
In November, a permit was issued by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Chief Conservator Julius Kamau to allow a Georgian national, Mr Georgey Gvasaliya, to export eight baobab trees. However, following an order by President William Ruto to investigate the matter, the permit was revoked several weeks later. Despite this, Mr Kamau eventually granted permission for the export of the trees.
The trees weigh close to 500,000 kilogrammes.
KFS issued you with authority to export the eight baobab trees dated November 1, 2022, which was subsequently revoked vide letter dated November 22, 2022. Following instructions from CS Environment, the revocation of the export permit is hereby lifted.Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Chief Conservator – Julius Kamau
KFS stated that they took into account the fact that the baobab is not classified as an endangered tree species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species and that it is not a protected species in Kenya nor listed on any CITES appendices. Additionally, KFS noted that the county government of Kilifi had issued a certificate of origin and permit to harvest, and both farmers and the proponent had expressed a willingness to trade.
The approval was also based on the fact that the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) had issued a phytosanitary certificate, and the National Environment Management Authority of Kenya (Nema) had issued an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) license on January 17. Mr Kamau stated that the license granted was only applicable to the eight baobab trees and was subject to the payment of government statutory fees.
The Forest Conservation and Management, Forest Protection and Security (FPS), KFS Ag Manager-Finance and Accounting, Coast Conservancy Ag Regional Forest Conservator and Kilifi County Forest Conservator were copied on the letter.
Mr Gvasaliya’s firm had uprooted the Adansonia digitata species of baobab from the Tezo area in Kilifi. Nema reported that the baobabs were to be transplanted in Georgia for conservation and educational purposes. The Seven Stars Seamless Project Cargo Logistic company issued a public notice for the movement of the baobab trees, which would affect the Kilifi roads during transportation between February 15 and June 30.
On November 7, 2022, NEMA Director General Mamo Mamo requested the Director of Public Prosecution in Kilifi to withdraw a court case filed against Mr Gvasaliya, Mr Richard Korir Kipsang, and Ms Patrcia Njeri Njuno for illegally uprooting baobab trees. Nema had initially filed the case, stating that the uprooting of the trees could lead to unsustainable use of natural resources since an EIA had not been conducted. However, Nema withdrew the case after the accused acquired the necessary permits and clearance from KFS and the county government.