Leading African Forest Conservationist Awarded Nobel Peace Prize
Kenyan Wangari Maathai has become the first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize, honored for fighting poverty by trying to save Africa's shrinking forests. The committee recognized deforestation is caused by, and a cause, of poverty and violence. Indeed, increasingly wars are being fought over natural resources. Maathai is a zoology professor who rose to international fame for campaigns against government-backed forest clearance in Kenya in the late 1980s and 1990s. Maathai worked to raise awareness of the importance of forests, exposing the graft that causes so much of their destruction. The Green Belt movement that she led is said to have planted some 30 million trees across Africa.
Forests.org and many other international supporters have long followed Maathai's lead, championing the cause of Kenyan forest conservation. We have supported campaigns to highlight the importance of Kenya's forests in absorbing rainfall which nourishes farms that support the bulk of the population. Forests are intimately related to water, climate, and land as well as human health throughout the World.
This prize is a wonderful celebration of the Green Belt movement's work, and catapults forest conservation into the mainstream of international policy as never before. Maathai's work is our work, and I would expect that she will use the excitement surrounding this prize to further protect the World's forests. It is entirely appropriate and long overdue that an environmentalist wins the Nobel Peace Prize. We have long known that Ecology is Peace.