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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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The Wangari Prize

The Wangari Prize

Wangari Maathai with tree sapling (credit: file photo)

Wangari Maathai was a powerful voice for environmental conservation, tree planting, and human dignity in Africa. She was a Kenyan biologist and the first East African women to receive a doctorate. Wangari established The Greenbelt Movement empowering women in Kenya to plant trees and she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts.

Wangari was a force of nature. In full disclosure, we worked together on a reforestation plan for a degraded and largely deforested region of eastern Kenya when I consulted for the US Agency for International Development. She was an inspiration and sadly passed away in 2011. The world has been a poorer place since.

In her honor, the Wangari Maathai Award for forest restoration champions was established by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. Its goal is to recognize an extraordinary individual who is working to improve forests and the lives of people who depend upon them.

Wangari Maathai (credit: School of the Environment,Yale)

A recent recipient was Léonidas Nzigiyimpa from Burundi who gave his reasons for becoming a 'forest champion' upon receiving the award.

Wangari Maathai said she often felt like the little hummingbird in an African fable. The fluttering bird was using its tiny wings to try and put out a forest fire while the other forest creatures watched. In her telling of the tale, she would always end by saying: I do what I can, and that was a great deal. The Wangari Maathai Foundation continues her pioneering environmental work and inspiration. WHB

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