Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai's Green Belt Movement plans to plant two billion trees worldwide by the end of 2008, to help reduce greenhouse gases.
Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement To Plant Two Billion Trees
PETER ALEXANDER, anchor:
Finally tonight, our planet and one woman's dream. She's determined to bring green back to barren land. And this is no small dream. She's expecting the seeds she has planted in her nation will have big results around the globe. Here's NBC's Martin Fletcher.
Ms. WANGARI MAATHAI: Come children, help me plant.
MARTIN FLETCHER reporting:
Her call has echoed around the world.
Ms. MAATHAI: To plant a tree. To take care of the land.
FLETCHER: Wangari Maathai's Green Belt Movement in Kenya, 100,000 men and women have planted more than 30 million trees, but now...
Ms. MAATHAI: We want to plant at least two billion by the end of 2008.
FLETCHER: Two billion trees worldwide, the goal to replace destroyed forest and to fight global warming.
Ms. MAATHAI: That tree is going to be working for you. Plant to remove that greenhouse gas out of the environment.
FLETCHER: Wangari's love of the land started early.
Ms. MAATHAI: I grew up seeing green, seeing peace, seeing birds, seeing wildlife.
FLETCHER: Especially near her childhood home, this mud hut north of the capital.
Ms. MAATHAI: It was a very lovely life.
FLETCHER: Professor Wangari's house is just over the hill. And every day when she was a little girl, she'd scampered down here twice a day to collect water from the spring, but her mother used to complain she spent too long enjoying the scenery and watching tadpoles. But developers, farmers and loggers cut down so many trees that only 1.3 percent of Kenya was covered by them.
Wangari wanted her beautiful Kenya back, but it's been tough. At demonstration against developers Wangari was beaten and bloodied, but she battled on, winning the Nobel Peace Prize three years ago, inspiring a generation of women who earn money caring for young trees Wangari once says changed her life.
Unidentified Woman: We enjoy it, and we love it. Yeah.
FLETCHER: Now Wangari is 67 years old.
Ms. MAATHAI: I guess earlier I thought I had all the time in the world, but as you grow older you realize, you don't have all the time.
FLETCHER: Mother Earth, saving Africa one tree at a time. Martin Fletcher, NBC News, Kenya.
There are many reasons to be thankful for trees. Besides being beautiful and giving shade, they provide habitats for birds, insects and other animals, and they are essential for the production of oxygen, which is vital for life on Earth. Additionally, they supply important products like wood, paper, fruit and nuts. The livelihoods of more than 1.5 billion people worldwide — about 20 percent of the global population — depend on trees.