Govt’s Move to Burn Ksh10 Million Sandalwood Sparks Debate
The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, on Tuesday, February 28, burned 13.5 tonnes of sandalwood, valued at Ksh10 million.
Soipan Tuya, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of the docket, supervised the destruction exercise at the Directorate of Criminal Investigation headquarters along Kiambu Road.
According to DCI’s statement, the sandalwood was extracted from endangered trees across the country.
Defending the move to destroy the sandalwood cache, Tuya noted that the government was committed to breaking illicit trade involving the endangered trees in the country.
Environment Cabinet Secretary Roselinda Soipan Tuya setting sandalwood on fire at DCI headquarters along Kiambu Road on Tuesday February, 28, 2023.
“The CS also pointed out that the global demand for the wood oil had led to the creation of an expansive illicit network of traffickers who sought to exploit both community and KFS-managed forests to harvest the woods,” DCI’s statement read in part.
“She maintained that the harvest of sandalwood was banned by the Government in 2007, adding that despite the ban, the overexploitation of the tree had continued to prevail. In that view, the CS noted that the public,” the statement added.
However, the decision sparked mixed reactions from Kenyans.
Lawyer Cliff Ombeta faulted the decision arguing that the government should have sourced for a market and the proceeds channelled towards addressing hunger.
“Looking at our current situation as Kenya. Hunger, drought and uncertainty …and now having seized the sandalwood, we should have sold it and the proceeds used to at least mitigate our problems.Unlike narcotics, this is marginally acceptable. My thoughts though,” he stated.
“That can build a dam to feed the whole of samburu county for years to come. I hope the conservationists are going to match that amount in donations,” Mwangi Mathu seconded Ombeta’s opinion.
Another social media user challenged the government to find seeds for the endangered trees and empower different communities to plant them to meet the global demand.
“Can we think outside the box of how we can limit illegal felling of these trees while empowering the communities with the same. Anything done to help educate the common mwananchi? Tinah Habie posted on Twitter.
Others castigated the government for contributing to climate pollution by burning the seized sandalwood.
“I think burning those sandalwoods is another way of polluting the environment and it’s ironical. This CS need to be enlightened,” Mulu added.
The in-demand sandalwood is used to manufacture fragrances in incense, cosmetics, perfumes and soap.
In September 2019, DCI seized 500kgs of sandalwood valued at Ksh400,000. Four suspects were apprehended during the operation in Baringo County.
500 Kilograms of sandalwood seized by DCI in September 2019.
fire suspect illegal