Wangari Maathai calls on UK philanthropists to support African forests

Wangari Maathai calls on UK philanthropists to support African forests

News (International, UK)

In a lecture in London this week hosted by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai called on UK foundations to support re-forestation in Africa.

She told Philanthropy UK: “Deforestation due to monoculture crops such as tea and coffee has had a dramatic impact on the environment in Africa.  And the people are especially vulnerable as, for example, Kenya is still largely dependent on peasant farming practices.  Solutions require complex messages, which must be made accessible to local people, in local languages. But producing and distributing accessible communications and materials requires resources, which most small grass-roots NGOs simply don’t have.”

Prof. Maathai also highlighted the critical role of governments in protecting the environment: “Climate change is a global problem that requires international collaboration.” 

She commended the UK Government’s support of the new Congo Basin Forest Fund, launched 17th June in London.  The UK pledged an additional £8m to boost the £50m grant already available for innovative schemes to prevent deforestation in Central Africa.  This includes funding a state-of-the-art system to give the first detailed bird’s eye view of the rate of deforestation in the Congo through British-made high resolution cameras placed on a satellite. The pictures will be beamed direct to Central Africa. At the same time the UK will be working with local people to help them map their own parts of the rainforest.

In 1977 Prof. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement (GBM), based in Kenya, as a grassroots tree planting programme to address the challenges of deforestation, soil erosion and lack of water.  Today it is one of the world’s most prominent women’s civil society organisations, advocating for human rights and supporting good governance and peaceful democratic change through the protection of the environment. Its mission is “to empower communities worldwide to protect the environment and to promote good governance and cultures of peace.”

  • For more information about GBM and the Congo Basin Forest Fund, visit the GBM website.

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