The Woman Who Planted Trees

In 2004 Wangari Maathai from Kenya became the first environmental activist to receive the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. A professor of science, Dr Maathai had introduced the idea of mass tree planting by women 30 years ago, and formed the Kenyan grassroots organisation - the Green Belt Movement in 1977. It went on to organise the planting of over 30 million trees across Kenya, enabling women to conserve the environment and empower themselves by improving their quality of life.

Inspired by Green Belt, other similar initiatives have been successfully launched in other African countries. In Kenya, the organisation continues to mobilise community consciousness towards achieving self-determination, improved livelihoods and environmental conservation. Wangari Maathai became a member of the Kenyan Parliament, and was assistant environment minister for 3 years from 2003. In 2005, “Living on Earth” reporter Ingrid Lobet travelled to Kenya to witness Dr Maathai’s work first hand. The programme, first aired on National Public Radio in the United States can be heard here in its entirety. Length 45 mins.

Living on Earth is a weekly environmental news and information programme broadcast on NPR in the US. Visit for more.

For further details of Wangari Maathai’s work see