• May 27, 2024
  • Last Update May 27, 2024 12:50 PM
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ELC dismiss application

ELC dismiss application

Loitoktok

Thursday, May 16, 2024

By Kimani Tirus

The Environment and Lands Court (ELC) in Kajiado has dismissed application by KiliAvo Fresh Ltd for a review of Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) decision to revoke its license to farm vegetables including avocados in the Kimana area of Amboseli.

While dismissing the application, the ELC said it has no jurisdiction to review the decision the National Environment Tribunal (NET) made in April 2021.

In a press release, the Amboseli Landowners Conservancies Association (ALOCA) welcomed the decision by the Kajiado ECL.

Samuel ole Kaanki, chairman of ALOCA, said “Today is a cause for celebration in our community. We feel that we are being recognised by the government and the courts.”

Kaanki pointed out that if the farm was allowed to farm avocados, other farms would have followed suit hence threatening local livelihoods and culture.

In the case ALOCA was joined by Big Life and other organisations including Kenya Wildlife Service, the Conservation Alliance of Kenya, the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Wildlife Direct, and tourism investors, in opposing KiliAvo’s plans for the farm.

Benson Leiyan, Chief Executive Officer for Big Life, said: “While this ruling leaves room for appeal, it is another win that reinforces the message that there are regulations and land-use plans in Amboseli that have been put in place to protect the livelihoods of local communities, and the natural environment that people depend on.”

Leiyan noted that these plans are enforceable by law, and one could not get around them.

“Growing commercial crops such as avocados uses more water than the semi-arid area around Amboseli can supply and hence deny water to smallholder farmers downstream, while blocking traditional grazing areas, and migration paths for wildlife, including elephants,” he added.

He further noted allowing KiliAvo Fresh Ltd to continue its activities would set a precedent for other commercial farming companies to do the same across the Amboseli ecosystem, severely affecting the wildlife and damaging livelihoods, especially as climate change worsens.

NEMA originally revoked the license over concerns including that the proposed farm was in a wildlife corridor, that it violated ALOCA’s land use plans and the Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan that zone this area for livestock and wildlife.

NEMA also revoked the license for reason that the developers failed to consult widely enough on their plans.

Following this, KiliAvo Fresh Ltd launched legal action at the National Environment Tribunal (NET) against NEMA and Big Life Limited, a conservation

Organisation working in the landscape, seeking to have the NEMA order overturned.

That case was dismissed by NETin April 2021, following which the company initiated the application for review at the Kajiado ELC.

The court had previously postponed the revocation of the licence pending its ruling on the application.

The 180-acre KiliAvo Fresh farm is located in an important but vulnerable wildlife dispersal area and migration corridor, and surrounded by locally-owned conservancies where landowners who are members of ALOCA, hundreds of local Maasai earn a living from livestock and tourism.

The area is designated for livestock grazing and tourism, and any intensive agricultural developments threaten water supply, block grazing and deter tourism investment.

Courtesy: KNA

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