Kenyan scientist Wangari Maathai
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International Institute for Sustainable Development

Wangari Maathai

In Africa, trees are being cut down. This means that forests are destroyed. Scientist Wangari Maathai works to stop the destruction of forests in Kenya and in other places in Africa. She doesn’t stop the trees that are being cut down. Instead, she organizes many women to plant new trees in Africa.

Where a forest of trees is cut down, there can be many other problems for the environment. Without trees, soil washes into rivers when it rains. This can make the river water polluted. Fewer trees make it difficult for people to find firewood. Many animals can not find the food they need.

To help stop these problems, Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977. The movement paid Kenyan women to plant trees. The program was so successful that other countries in Africa wanted to do the same thing. Wangari Maathai has helped other African countries make their own programs to plant trees. Through this project, women have planted more than 20 million trees in Africa.

Wangari Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya (Africa) in 1940. She was a professor at the University of Nairobi in Kenya for many years. She and her organization have won many awards including the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. In December 2002, she was elected to the Kenyan parliament and was appointed to be the Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife.

Last modified January 9, 2006 by Lisa Gardiner.

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