“When we plant trees, we plant
the seeds of peace and hope.”
The Green Belt Movement (GBM) is an environmental organization, based in Kenya, which seeks to empower communities to conserve the environment. It was founded in 1977 by Professor Wangari Maathai as an offshoot of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK) in response to the requests of rural Kenyan women. These women noticed a number of environmental issues that were posing a threat to the African environment, namely the drying up of streams, unsecured food supplies.
The vision of the organization is to create “a values-driven society of people who consciously work for continued improvement of their livelihoods and a greener, cleaner world.” This vision drives their mission of creating better environmental management and community livelihood through tree planting.
How much of an impact has the Green Belt Movement had to date?
Here is a look at GBM by the numbers:
Number of GBM-supported community tree nursery groups – 4,034
Number of indigenous seedlings raised by the community nurseries annually – 8,000,000 seedlings
Average number of trees planted in critical watershed areas annually – 5,000,000 trees
Number of tree planting sites in critical watersheds across Kenya – 6,500
Total number of trees planted since 1978 to date – over 51 million
Average survival rate – 70%
The Green Belt Movement’s Three Pillars of Activity
- Community Empowerment and Education: GBM believes that education and community empowerment is important to help people understand the connection between a healthy environment and human activities.
- Planting Trees: GBM focuses on planting the right trees in the right locations to have a maximum impact on the ecosystem, helping to preserve the environment for years to come.
- Advocacy: GBM uses a grassroots approach to help local communities maintain a healthy and fruitful environment. However, GBM also has an international presence and advocates for environmental policies to protect forest ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa and the Congo Basin Rainforest Ecosystem.
About Wangari Maathai – The Founder of the Green Belt Movement
“We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!”
Wangari Maathai was internationally recognized for her advocacy for human rights, democracy, and environmental conservation. She was the 2004 laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize, author and former chairman of the National Council of Women of Kenya. Her work at the council led to the concept of community-based tree planting and the original concept for the Greenbelt Movement.
Maathai passed away on September 25, 2011, but she left us a lasting legacy and made great impact on the Kenyan environment and community. Her awards, achievements and personal affiliations are too many to list. Her dozens of honorary degrees and awards are a testament to her impact on the environment.
Want to learn more about Wangari? Check out her publications:
The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience
Unbowed: A Memoir
The Challenge for Africa
Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World
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DONATE to the Green Belt Movement
There are a number of ways to get involved with the Green Belt Movement and support this great cause:
Visit The Green Belt Movement online for more information about how to donate.