Kenya's president saves beloved fig tree from removal

This century old, sacred fig tree in Nairobi, Kenya, which stands 4 stories high, was at risk for removal.

Kenyan authorities wanted to relocate it to make way for a four-lane, 17 mile highway funded by a Chinese corporation.

But Wednesday Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta issued an order to save the tree, declaring it a "beacon of Kenya's cultural and ecological heritage."

Environmentalists had been campaigning against the planned destruction of the tree.

Elizabeth Wathuti is a prominent Kenyan environmental activist

"This decision today gives me hope that activism works, when it comes to protecting our environment and our green spaces… This particular fig tree is just a symbol of the bigger picture of what we are asking for. We want a green and clean city, a green and clean Kenya that is also climate resilient. This means that we cannot afford to sacrifice our green spaces for anything, including development."

The beloved tree will be adopted by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services on behalf of the city’s residents, and the Chinese corporation and the Kenya National Highways Authority have agreed to reroute the road.

Video Transcript

- This century-old, sacred fig tree in Nairobi, Kenya, which stands four stories high, was at risk for removal. Kenyan authorities wanted to relocate it to make way for a four-lane, 17-mile highway funded by a Chinese corporation. But Wednesday, Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta, issued an order to save the tree, declaring it a beacon of Kenya's cultural and ecological heritage. Environmentalists had been campaigning against the planned destruction of the tree. Elizabeth Wathuti is a prominent Kenyan environmental activist.

ELIZABETH WATHUTI: This decision today gives me hope that activism works when it comes to protecting our environment and our green spaces. This particular fig tree is just a symbol of the bigger picture of what we are asking for. We want a green and clean city, a green and clean Kenya that is also climate resilient. And this means that we cannot afford to sacrifice our green spaces for anything, including development.

- The beloved tree will be adopted by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services on behalf of the city's residents. And the Chinese corporation and the Kenya National Highways Authority have agreed to reroute the road.