Kenya: Iconic Nairobi Fig Tree Gets Reprieve

The iconic Sycamore Fig Tree along Waiyaki Way and mpaka Road junction on November 11.
11 November 2020

The Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) has abandoned plans to cut down the iconic fig tree along Waiyaki Way, a move that was meant to pave way for the Jomo Kenyatta Airport-Westlands expressway.

The tree stands on the route of the new road that is already under construction.

Upon catching wind that the huge tree, which stands almost 12 metres high with wide branches spreading above Mpaka Road and Waiyaki Way junction, would be felled, residents and conservationists took to the streets in protest.

Initially, NMS said it would lift the entire tree and plant it in another area but later on switched to preserving it at the roundabout.

Speaking during the official declaration of the conservation of the iconic tree, NMS Director-General Mohammed Badi yesterday said this was only the beginning of the efforts geared towards environmental conservation.

"There were fears from conservationists and the public that the beauty of this tree, which is over 100 years, would be gone. I am here to ensure the public that this tree will be preserved and that whatever development going on here will not affect it," he said.

The contractor, China Roads, together with the Kenya National Highways Authority have also been directed to ensure that the tree is not touched by the construction.

NMS director for environment Stephen Nzioka read the declaration of the conservation to seal the exercise.

"This Fig Tree is hereby adopted by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services on behalf of the people of Nairobi and all Kenya; and declared and conserved as a beacon of Kenya's cultural and ecological heritage, and as a symbol of Nairobi's commitment to environmental conservation," part of the Declaration read.

Uhuru Park, Central Park and the Jeevanje Gardens have been earmarked for revitalisation in a bid to create richer and greener recreational spaces.

The county administration is also planning to create new neighborhood parks in estates, a move vice president of the World Resources Institute Wanjiru Maathai said would improve the city's biodiversity.

"The parks and playgrounds in all neighborhoods will ensure that every child in Nairobi should be within a short walk to a playground and park. We are lucky we are staying in a city that is green and we should ensure it stays that way," Ms Maathai said.

She, however, implored the NMS to hastily work on the conservation of Karura Forest to help restore it.

Under the NMS, Michuki Park was regenerated as many more trees were planted and its perimeter sealed with a fence early this year.

Recently, General Badi led a team in the regeneration of the Ngong' River in Matopeni area where the accumulated waste was cleared and trees planted along the riparian land.

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