In Kenya, a Cherished Fig Tree Gets a Reprieve

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CAIRO — A beloved fig tree within the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, will reside to see one other day — and, presumably, one other century.

On Wednesday, the pinnacle of the Nairobi metropolitan space stated the 100-year-old fig tree that was slated for removing to make approach for a brand new expressway wouldn’t solely be saved but in addition preserved as a nationwide image of environmental conservation.

The announcement was a victory for each environmentalists and cultural leaders in Kenya who denounced the efforts to chop or relocate the fig tree, which many communities contemplate sacred. Some consultants had doubted that the traditional tree, which is 4 tales excessive, would have survived being uprooted and moved.

“Whatever development that is going to happen here will not touch this tree,” Maj. Gen. Mohammed Badi, the director common of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services, stated throughout a go to to the fig tree within the bustling industrial district of Westlands.

Mr. Badi stated he had instructed metropolis officers to fence off the tree and beautify the realm in order that town’s residents may benefit from the area. He additionally signed a declaration that adopted the tree “as a beacon of Kenya’s cultural and ecological heritage” and as a logo of “Nairobi’s commitment to environmental conservation.”

The authorities introduced in October that they deliberate to uproot the tree to make approach for the development of the Nairobi Expressway, a four-lane freeway funded and constructed by China. The 17-mile freeway, which is about for completion in 2022, is aimed toward lowering visitors within the coronary heart of Nairobi and is predicted to create hundreds of jobs.

But from the outset, the mission drew criticism from environmental teams who stated the results on air high quality and inexperienced areas had not been taken into consideration. Even although Nairobi is popularly referred to as the “Green City in the Sun,” parks, forests and gardens have been dwindling within the metropolis in recent times due to industrial and infrastructural improvement.

Activists additionally lamented the felling of dozens of timber alongside the freeway’s route and filed a case in opposition to the environmental regulator for approving the mission. Kenyan legislation would usually require the suspension of the mission pending a court docket resolution, however building has continued.

Environmentalists on Wednesday welcomed the choice to save lots of the fig tree however known as for extra motion to save lots of inexperienced areas throughout the capital.

“The move by the National Metropolitan Services is very welcome and a good starting point for us to converse around ethical development and investments in Kenya,” George Mwangala, the East Africa lead for Purpose Climate Lab, a social impression company that has opposed the expressway’s building, stated in an announcement.

But, he added, “we have to ensure nature and our lived environments coexist and complement infrastructure development at all levels.”

Wanjira Mathai, whose mom was the environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, welcomed the choice to save lots of the tree.

“With what we now know about the role of green spaces and trees in keeping cities livable, we should work to ensure that Nairobi’s development is green and inclusive,” Ms. Mathai, chairwoman of the Wangari Maathai Foundation, stated in an interview.

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