In Kenya, a cherished fig tree gets a reprieve


Mr Badi said he asked city officials to tree fence and beautify the neighborhood so that city residents can enjoy the space. He also signed a declaration which adopted the tree “as a beacon of Kenya’s cultural and ecological heritage” and as a symbol of “Nairobi’s commitment to environmental conservation”.

Authorities announced in October that they planned to uproot the tree to make way for the construction of the Nairobi Expressway, a four-lane highway funded and built by China. The 17-mile highway, due for completion in 2022, aims to reduce traffic in the heart of Nairobi and is expected to create thousands of jobs.

But from the start, the project drew criticism from environmental groups who said the effects on air quality and green spaces had not been taken into account. Even though Nairobi is popularly known as the ‘green city in the sun’, parks, forests and gardens have declined in the city in recent years due to commercial and infrastructural development.

Activists also deplored the felling of dozens of trees along the route of the highway and filed a complaint against the environmental regulator for approving the project. Kenyan law would normally require the project to be suspended pending a court ruling, but construction has continued.

Environmentalists welcomed the decision to save the fig tree on Wednesday, but called for more action to save green spaces across the capital.


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