Existing rules can control eucalyptus

In Summary

• Eucalyptus trees are not supposed to be planted within 50 metres of any water source

• Eucalyptus is a foreign import, from Australia, but so are many of the proposed alternatives.

Central Imenti MP Moses Kirima wants to totally ban eucalyptus in Kenya because it causes water loss. He is seeking to have existing plantations uprooted.

Kirima is over-reacting to a genuine problem. Growing eucalyptus should be controlled but not banned entirely.

There is no doubt that eucalyptus can be problematic. It is so water-hungry that it can drain swamps and reduce river flow. It blocks the growth of nearby vegetation. And it is an exotic import so it does not host pollinators or local birds and animals.

But eucalyptus can also be very useful. It provides economical firewood and is widely grown for electricity poles. It is quick-growing, hardy and profitable.

Many of the proposed alternatives for eucalyptus are also exotic foreign species like bamboo and grevillea. Are they any better? And who will refund farmers when their eucalyptus plantations are cut down?

The government already has a rule that eucalyptus should not be planted within 50 metres of rivers or water sources. If this rule is strictly enforced, there would be no need for the extreme measure of cutting down all the eucalyptus trees in Kenya.

Quote of the day: "Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hate, and hate leads to violence. This is the equation."

The Spanish Arab philosopher was born on April 14, 1126

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