The Green Belt Movement

The Green Belt Movement

Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement

The green belt movement is a non-profit making non-governmental organization based in Kenya. It was founded by Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai. The organization was formed as a women’s organization for the empowerment of women. It has become one of Kenya’s, most prominent women’s societies. It mostly advocates for human rights, good governance, democracy and the protection of the environment. Its core mission is the protection and empowerment of the communities all around the world, protection of the environment and the promotion of good governance, maintenance of culture and above all peace (The Green Belt Movement, 2011).

Started in the year 1977 by Dr. Wangari Maathai as a grassroots’ program to address challenges of deforestation, water and soil erosion in Kenya, it has now become the key driver for women empowerment. Their key act is the planting of trees to send the messages that they advocate for. This simple act of tree planting has helped women in the whole of Africa become the stewards of protection of the natural environment. However, the tree planting is considered as the first step in their quest of management of scarce resources in Africa. The resources include economic development that is equitable, water, good governance and peace. The organization has achieved results including the planting of over 40 million trees across Africa.

This has had the effect of reducing soil erosion in very important watersheds. Indigenous forests have grown to the scale of thousands of acres and they have achieved the restoration of these forests. Hundreds of thousands of women have become empowered financially and are standing up for their persona and communal rights. This has made them improve their quality of life and have improved the health and productivity of their families. Though all these achievements have been made, this is not even a tenth of the remaining work since so much work remains undone. The forests are still being depleted, poverty is still a thorn in our sides and democracy is so far from being achieved. The organization has a vision of planting a billion trees worldwide in the next ten years. The concept of the organization is that the development of a healthy natural world is the key to achieving a peaceful and equitable society. Protection of the environment is an activity that the general population whether young or old can participate in.

Ways in which we can use forests more sustainably

The people can manage and use the forests more sustainably in several methods that the organization has formulated. The identification and protection of forest areas, which are high in biodiversity, is one of the most important ways to do this. The people should then rely more on strip cutting and selective cutting of trees rather than just felling without a plan. Avoiding the clear-cutting along and on steep slopes is also an important move in the retention and protection of forests. Old-growth forests should be termed a no go zone if forests are to be protected. This is because these are the most important sources of water. Roads should also be barred from being built in uncut forested areas because they take up a considerable portion of land, which would be very important in creating water-catchments (Miller & Spoolman, 2008).

Ways in which governments and individuals can reduce tropical deforestation

            One way in which the government and the individuals can reduce tropical deforestation is to educate and help the settlers in the tropical forests to learn forestry and small-scale agriculture. Another way is encouraging them to harvest some of the renewable resources that are found in the forests such as the nuts and the fruits in order to sustain themselves. Strip cutting is also another important move to be used in limbering. This shall ensure that for every area that has been lumbered, new trees are planted. For governments, a strategy known as debt-for-nature swaps can be done. This enables a government to secure a loan with the surety being that they are a custodian of a tropical forest or a forested area. The countries can also be paid to protect their natural forests and resources.























Miller, G. T. & Spoolman, S. (2008). Sustaining the Earth: an integrated approach. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

The Green Belt Movement. (2011). The Green Belt Movement. Retrieved from


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