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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

The Wangari Prize

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, October 13, 2014/Categories: sustainability, environment

Wangari Maathai was a powerful voice for environmental conservation, tree planting, and human rights in Africa. She was a Kenyan biologist who was the first East African women to receive a PhD. Wangari established  The Greenbelt Movement  that empowered women in Kenya to plant trees and she received the  Nobel Peace Prize  for those efforts in 2004.

Wangari Maathai was a force of nature. In full disclosure, we worked together on reforestation plans for a degraded and largely deforested region of Kenya when I worked there as an environmental consultant in the 1980's. She was an inspiration, sadly passing away in 2011 from cancer, and the world has been a much poorer place since. In her honor, the Wangari Maathai Award was established in 2012 by the  Collaborative Partnership on Forests  "to recognize an extraordinary individual working to improve forests and the lives of people who depend upon them."

Wangari Maathai  (credit: African news files)

The Wangari Award for 2014 was presented to  Martha Isabel Pati Ruiz Corzo of Mexico. According to the award announcement , Corzo worked to "make conservation profitable for rural communities in the  Sierra Gorda  Biosphere Reserve, one of the most ecologically diverse areas of Mexico and home to threatened species such as jaguars and green macaws as well as 800 types of butterfly."

You can listen to Martha "Pati" Corzo's speech on receiving the Wangari Award here:

Wangari Maathai used to say she felt like the little hummingbird from the African fable flapping its tiny wings to put out a forest fire. In her retelling of the story, she would always add that "I do what I can." That was a great deal and now a new forest prize continues her inspiration.


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