Kenyan Wangari Maathai was the first African woman who had won The Peace Nobel Prize. Before she has founded the social movement, “Green Belt” in 1977, almost nobody paid attention to the relation between environmental degradation, human rights and democracy. Since then, public opinion has changed. Announcing the winner of the award in 2004, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, “Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment.” Wangari Maathai always supported such a prudential idea, successfully showing it in her doings. Throughout her carrier, she demonstrated that the movement for the protection of biological diversity and sustainable development were closely related with the democracy governance, human rights, and fight against poverty. “The Green Belt Movement mobilized thousands of citizens and gave them the opportunity to act and bring about the improvement. They learned how to overcome the feeling of helplessness, and, at last, began to defend democratic rights. “, said Maathai in her Nobel speech in December 2004.
In her memoir titled “Unbowed”, Maathai recalls the moments of her childhood, describing lush vegetation and the fertility of the soil in her surroundings. She writes, “Climate seasons were so regular that you could almost predict the beginning of a long monsoon season in the middle of March.”. However, with the course of time she began to notice that the seasons were less predictable. The land resources ran low in consequence of population growth and because of the reckless usage of them by the corrupted governmental authorities. The woman could not accept the situation, and thus she began her struggle. To prevent soil erosion, and provide firewood for cooking needs, Maathai and members of the “Pan African Greenbelt Movement” planted over 40 million trees. In addition, they defeated the corruption related to environmental damage among government officials. The Green Belt Movement destroyed the plans of administration to construct the high-rise office building in the heart of the UhuruPark in Nairobi, Kenya. Being a leader, Maathai was arrested and thrown in jail. Nevertheless, she has overcome the difficulties. Maathai was elected to Kenya’s parliament in 2002, and she worked as an assistant minister of Environment, National Resources and Wildlife. Since then her movement successfully advocates for the sustainable environment, democratic governance, and culture of peace.
The Green Belt Movement was founded to respond to the needs of African women who complained: “Our streams are drying up, our food supply is less secure, and we have to go further and further to get firewood for fuel and fencing.”. The whole planet faces the same problem on the global scale. The world should follow Maathai’s wishes for good. “Let us worry about management of resources. I saw that it was very, very important to use the tree planting as an entry point”, said she at the Wilson Center.
It is necessary to compromise between the forest conservation through sustainable use and the forest exploitation. Sustainable use of forests includes the in time felling, replacing the cut wood with seedlings, supporting the biodiversity of trees, and ensuring safety of wildlife. To provide us with the sustainable future, the forest management should provide:
a) planting the trees and investing the funds into the ecosystem development;
b) favoring the enterprises of forest industries and providing gender equality;
c) using the recycled paper and wood products;
d) managing forestry in a viable and sustainable way.
“If you destroy the forest then the river will stop flowing, the rains will become irregular, the crops will fail, and you will die of hunger and starvation”, said Dr. Wangari Maathai. Unsustainable practices and poor governance continue to increase deforestation. The best ways to prevent the problem are:
a) to make the information about the level of deforestation public and widely distributed;
b) to create and develop the market-based approaches providing financial motive for conservation and the sustainable use of tropical forests;
c) to involve the representatives of national and private sector policies for enhancement of monitoring the conservation and sustainable use of tropical forests.
In other words, for example, the local farmers should be taught how to maximize their lands usage and go on without cultivating of new areas. Another way to preserve the forests is to provide the landowners financially if they support land conservation.
“In managing our resources, we need to realize that they are limited and need to be managed more sustainably, responsibly, and accountably”, wrote the leader of The Green Belt Movement. These wise words should be heard by every human being of our planet.