NAIROBI, Nov 23 (Swara) – Kenya’s President William Ruto has called a halt to the uprooting of the iconic baobab trees in the coastal county of Kilifi reportedly for export to the Eastern European country of Georgia.

Environmental activists have been up in arms against the harvesting of mature baobab trees in the Tezo area of Kilifi Country, saying foreigners had duped local farmers into selling the country’s natural heritage on the pretext that the trees consumed too much groundwater to the detriment of food crops.

“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 in a tweet dated November 21 2022.

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) came into force in December 1993 and is intended to preserve biological diversity and ensure sustainable use of the components of biological diversity. It also aims to promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity. It provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of CBD’s objectives — the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from genetic resources.

The giant baobabs have a record-breaking lifespan and are some of Africa’s most iconic trees. Their towering bulk, fire-resistant bark and extraordinary drought resistance make them especially unique. According to some estimates, baobabs can live for up to 5,000 years, reach up to 30 metres high and expand up to an enormous 50 metres in circumference.