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Baobabs vs. biopiracy and elite Ivorian forest conservation unit

Kenyan authorities have cancelled a licence issued to a company from Georgia to uproot and export eight baobab trees that the Georgians bought from local farmers in Kilifi County. Farmers sold the trees growing on their private land for between US$800 and US$2,400 apiece, presumably to prepare the land for maize cultivation. According to the Minister of Environment, permission to uproot the baobabs, which can live up to 2,500 years, was not properly obtained. Removing baobab trees can seriously impact the environment – the trees provide habitats for many species of insects, reptiles and birds. Baobab fruit, on the other hand, is considered a superfood. Environmental experts have deemed the planned export of the trees as “biopiracy”.

In Côte d’Ivoire, an elite unit saves the natural resources and fights local gangs. The Service de Contrôle Forestier comprises 10 people whose mission is to defend the country’s 234 forests from illegal gold diggers, loggers and cocoa farmers and to protect reforestation efforts. According to a Global Forest Watch report, between 2017 and 2018, Côte d’Ivoire experienced the second-highest percentage increase in deforestation in the world, with around 70% of tree felling occurring in protected areas.

In the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah and Colorado, where Engelmann spruce trees grow, a federal program employs people to climb trees and collect cones. Seeds from the cones are collected from July to October, distributed to forest nurseries in the US, and sown to regrow forests decimated by fire or deforestation.

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