• Kaya elders want to plant mainly exotic foreign trees in their environmental conservation programme
• The 30 Kaya forests are the remnants of the great coastal forest that once stretched from Somalia to Mozambique
Kaya elders at the Coast have launched 'Kaya na Mazingira' to plant trees and conserve the environment.
Unfortunately this highly commendable initiative is spoiled by the elders promising to plant primarily exotic trees: neem, mango, coconut, cashew nut, moringa, castor oil, baobab, mkwaju, mkunazi, pawpaw, and guava.
Out of this list, only baobab is a truly indigenous tree that would have been found in the ancient coast forest. Mkwaju (tamarind) and Mkunazi (Indian jujube) are naturalised trees from India brought here centuries ago.
The elders are protecting around 30 sacred Kaya forests along the Kenya coast. These forests, along with Arabuko-Sokoke, are the few remaining fragments of the great coastal forest that once stretched from Somalia to Mozambique.
The Kaya elders, the traditional Mijikenda leaders, should be struggling to recreate this ancient coastal forest. That is the best way to combat climate change.
They should collect all their seed and seedlings from inside the Kaya forests which hold superb specimens of many rare local trees.
If they extended Kaya forest trees along the Kenya coast, the Mijikenda elders could truly say that they had helped to save the world and conserve the environment.
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