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After the recent passing of champion of tree planting Wangari Maathai, many dignitaries have publicly reflected on her incredible work to bring more trees, and their social, economic and environmental impact, into the world.

“Professor Maathai’s tireless efforts earned her not only a Nobel Peace Prize and numerous prestigious awards, but the respect of millions who were inspired by her commitment to conservation, democracy, women’s empowerment, the eradication of poverty, and civic engagement.”

-Barack Obama, President of the United States

“She was determined to make our world a more peaceful, better place to live. I hope her valuable achievements will inspire other women to follow her example and take a more active role in society.”

-His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

“A globally recognized champion for human rights and women’s empowerment, Professor Maathai was a pioneer in articulating the links between human rights, poverty, environmental protection and security – for which she was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.”

– Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Photo Courtesy of Devin Lund

You can read more from these statements and others and sign the book of condolences for Wangari Maathai on the GreenBelt website.

Artists are also celebrating Wangari’s work. Actor and activist Djimon Hounsou Tweeted “The world has lost an environmental hero! We will honor your life and legacy. RIP Nobel Peace Laureate #WangariMaathai . We love you! #Africa Actress Kerry Washington Tweeted this reference to Wangari: “RIP MOTHER OF TREES”

GreenHeroes encourages you to plant a tree in Wangari’s memory. Want to do more? We will help you get started.

Photo Courtesy of Devin Lund

We are sad to announce the earth’s loss of one of her great champions. Wangari Maathai, our GreenHero who brought trees to areas in Kenya that had been environmentally degraded, died of cancer at age 71.

In the late 1970s, after hearing Kenyan women express their need for firewood, fresh drinking water and nutritious food, Wangari rallied them and said “Let’s plant trees!” She founded the Green Belt movement in Kenya that pays groups of women to plant trees. In over 30 years, 40 million trees were planted.

Her work inspired the United Nations One Billion Trees campaign, a worldwide program whose objective is to plant one billion trees per year.

In 2004, Wangari Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for her work. In developing a tree planting program, she fostered communities and showed the world how important trees really are.

For more on Wangari’s story, view our webisode on her. To learn how you can further her movement, visit our Talking Climate Change campaign we created that was inspired by her efforts.

“We created a movement that has inspired many other people, not only in Africa, but in many other parts of the world, so that many people feel ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’” – Wangari Maathai speaking to GreenHeroes

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