Wangari Maathai & The Green Belt Movement


Title Wangari Maathai & The Green   Belt Movement
Director(s) Landon Van soest
Date released (year) 2010
Production company StridesinDevelopment
Length 8.52mins
Location Kenya
Keywords/tags Environmentalism, deforestation,   sustainability, empowerment
Link to film
Synopsis Wangari Maathai is a Kenyan   environmentalist and political activist. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the   Green Belt Movement, an environmental NGO focused on environmental   conservation and women’s rights. In 2004, she became the first African woman   to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to sustainable   development, democracy, and peace.


Reviews/discussion The Green Belt Movement   ( organizes rural women in Kenya to plant trees,   an effort that combats deforestation while generating income for the   community and promoting empowerment for women. Since Maathai founded the   Movement, over 40 million trees have been planted and over 30,000 women have   been trained in forestry, food processing, beekeeping, and other sustainable,   income-generating activities.


Links to other resources

REDD Alert


Title REDD Alert
Date released (year) 2009
Production company TV/e Inspiring Change
Length 22 mins
Location Congo
Keywords/tags Climate change, neoliberalism,   deforestation
Link to film
Synopsis Could carbon become the developing world’s new cash crop? Tropical   forests store a quarter of the earth’s carbon and suck in 15 percent of all   the CO2 we emit each year. A new international concept called REDD aims to   make tropical forests more valuable as living, breathing ecosystems than if   they are cleared for farmland. Prototype REDD projects are now getting   underway, to test out how best to make this complex scheme work. Earth Report   travels to the vast rainforests of Africas Congo Basin, to find out if   forests can realistically pay their way as global carbon stores and who   exactly will benefit.


Reviews/discussion What is REDD?

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)[1] is a set of steps   designed to use market and financial incentives in order to reduce the   emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation. Its   objective is to reduce greenhouse gases.

“Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest   degradation” implies a distinction between the two activities. The   process of identifying the two is what raises questions about how to measure   each within the REDD mechanism, therefore their distinction is vital.   Deforestation is the permanent removal of forests and withdrawal of land from   forest use. Forest degradation refers to negative changes in the forest area   that limit its production capacity.

Development of a REDD mechanism has progressed significantly since 1995   with the set up of a UN programme and various capacity building and research   activities. Projects are also being trialled through national government   programmes and the private sector. REDD+ is increasingly likely to be   included in a post-2012 international climate agreement, yet many challenges   are still to be solved. How will the REDD+ mechanism link to existing national   development strategies? How can forest communities and indigenous peoples   participate in the design, monitoring and evaluation of national REDD+   programmes? How will REDD+ be funded, and how will countries ensure that   benefits are distributed equitably among all those who manage the forests?   Finally, how will the amount of carbon stored and sequestrated as a result of   REDD+ be monitored?

REDD is sometimes presented as an “offset” scheme of the carbon   markets and thus, would produce carbon credits. Carbon offsets are   “emissions-saving projects or programmes” that in theory would “compensate”   for the polluters’ emissions. The “carbon credits” generated by these   projects could then be used by industrialised governments and corporations to   meet their targets and/or to be traded within the carbon markets. [1] However this perspective on REDD+ is contested and hotly debated among   economists, scientists and negotiators.[2] Recent studies   indicate such an offset approach based on projects would significantly   increase the transaction costs associated to REDD+ [3] and would actually be   the weakest alternative for a national REDD+ architecture as regards   effectiveness, efficiency, its capacity to deliver co benefits (like   development, biodiversity or human rights) and its overal political   legitimacy.[4]

In recent years, estimates for deforestation and forest degradation were   shown to account for 20-25% of greenhouse gas emissions, higher than the   transportation sector.[5] Recent work shows   that the combined contribution of deforestation, forest degradation and   peatland emissions accounts for about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, about   the same as the transportation sector.[6] Even with these new   numbers it is increasingly accepted that mitigation of global   warming will not be achieved without the inclusion of forests in an international   regime. As a result, it is expected to play a crucial role in a future   successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.[7]

Source: wikipedia

Links to other resources See UN REDD site:

Espinoza Llanos, Roberto and Feather, Conrad (Nov, 2011). “The reality of REDD+ in Peru:   Between theory and practice – Indigenous Amazonian Peoples’ analyses and   alternatives”. AIDESEP and Forest Peoples Programme.   Retrieved 2009-11-23. Carbon   offsetting scheme open to corruption, report warns

CDM Carbon Sink Tree Plantations:   Insights into Sustainability Issues

Vickers, Ben (Apr 2008). “REDD: a Steep learning Curve”. Asia-Pacific   Forestry Week.   Retrieved 2009-11-23.

Forest Dialogue (2009). “Investing in REDD-Plus”.   Retrieved 2009-11-20.

“Copenhagen Accord of 18 December   2009”. UNFCC. 2009.   Retrieved 2009-12-28.

“REDD: Agriculture and   deforestation: What role should REDD+ and public support policies play?”. Institute for   Sustainable Development and International Relations. december 2010.


African Rainforest Conservancy


Title African Rainforest Conservancy
Director(s) aidforafrica
Date released (year) 2011
Production company aidforafrica
Length 3.23mins
Location Tanzania
Keywords/tags Deforestation, environmentalism,
Link to film
Synopsis The African Rainforest Conservancy   conserves and restores African rainforests by empowering local men, women,   and children through training, community development, research and education   to preserve their natural heritage.


Reviews/discussion This is an advocacy and fund   raising video for Aid for Africa.

From the Institute for Development Studies, an excellent background   reading:



This paper explores the social and   political dynamics and outcomes of so-called participatory forest   conservation by focusing on the interactions between various actors involved   in forest use and control in the East Usambaras, Tanzania. The shift in   dominant development and conservation discourses towards a participatory   approach has had effects on forest conservation in the case study area, as it   is reflected in the State policies, management strategies and actual   practices also in areas with high conservation status. Despite this, there   are shortcomings in the implementation of participatory strategies, and the   shifts of “paradigms” are not total. Earlier approaches, and the problems   related to them, do not disappear although the rhetoric of participatory   forestry and the bottom-up approach spread.

Power and other social relations   within and between the state agencies, community groups and other actors   involved in the conservation and use of natural resources intervene in the   implementation  of  participatory  conservation  projects    greatly,  and  can    lead  to  unintended outcomes and possibly even to   conflicts. Involving “local people” in forest conservation by promoting development   activities and/or sharing the responsibility over forest control does not   make forest conservation a smooth and apolitical process. To be better   adjusted to local contexts, and thus more viable in the longer term,   conservation efforts need to better recognise and address economic and other   power relations between the concerned “interest groups”   as well as institutional constraints at   different levels and in various organisations involved in the control of   protected areas.


Links to other resources Tanzania Forest Conservation Group:

South African policy on community   forestry:

Liz   Alden Wily (2003?) Participatory forest   management in Africa: 31

an overview of progress and issues.

The Food and Agriculture   Organisation has some useful information on community forestry:

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai


Title Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai
Director(s) Alan Dater and Lisa Merton
Date released (year) 2008
Length 81 mins
Production company Independent
Location Kenya
Keywords/tags Kenya, women,   deforestation, activism, planting trees, feminism, environmental justice,   ecofeminism, land degradation, environmentalism
Link to film
Synopsis TAKING ROOT: The Vision of Wangari Maathai   tells the story of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, a grassroots organization   encouraging rural women and families to plant trees in community groups, and   follows Maathai, the movement’s founder and the first environmentalist and   African woman to win the Nobel Prize. Maathai discovered her life’s work by   reconnecting with the rural women with whom she had grown up. They told her   they were walking long distances for firewood, and that clean water was   scarce. The soil was disappearing from their fields and their children were   suffering from malnutrition. “Well, why not plant trees?” she suggested.

Maathai   soon discovered that tree planting had a ripple effect of empowering change.   In the mid-1980s, Kenya was under the repressive regime of Daniel arap Moi,   whose dictatorship outlawed group gatherings and the right of association. In   tending their nurseries, women had a legitimate reason to gather outside   their homes and discuss the roots of their problems. They soon found   themselves working against deforestation, poverty, ignorance, embedded   economic interests and government corruption; they became a national   political force that helped to bring down the country’s 24-year dictatorship.

Using   archival footage and first-person accounts, the film documents dramatic political   confrontations of 1980s and 1990s Kenya and captures Maathai’s infectious   determination and unwavering courage through in-depth conversations with the   film’s subjects. TAKING ROOT captures a world view in which nothing is   perceived as impossible. The film also presents an awe-inspiring profile of   one woman’s three-decade journey of courage to protect the environment,   ensure gender equality, defend human rights and promote democracy—all   sprouting from the achievable act of planting trees.




Awards & Festivals:

2008, Winner,   Audience Choice Prize, Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal   (RIDM)

2008, Winner,   Prix Ecocamera (Ecocamera Award), Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire   du Montréal (RIDM)

2008, Winner,   Margaret Blank Award for Storytelling Vermont International Film Festival

2008, Winner,   Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award, Durban International Film   Festival

2008, Winner,   Green Cinema Award, Maui Film Festival

2008, Winner,   Audience Award, Projecting Change Film Festival, Vancouver

2008, Winner,   Audience Award Winner, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival

2008, Winner,   Full Frame Women in Leadership Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival,   Durham, North Carolina

2008, Winner,   Nashville Women in Film & Television Award for Best Feature Length Film   Directed or Co-Directed by a Woman Nashville Film Festival

2008, Winner,   Best Documentary Feature, Honorable Mention, Nashville Film Festival

Below taken from:

“Highly recommended”
read Video   Librarian review…

“We have just completed the month-long book tour [The   Challenge for Africa] and … hardly was there a place we went that people did   not mention Taking   Root. It has been a wonderful project… I hope the film will   continue to inspire people across the globe especially as the message is so   fitting for our time.”

Wangari Maathai
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Founder of the Green Belt Movement,
and subject of Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

“[Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai]   portrays a woman’s fight against all odds not to be a victim in her own   natural environment. Indeed, ‘the tree woman’ and her initiative of planting   trees led to the emancipation of women in her community. Through this act,   she became the epitome of success and a role model of an enriching   woman.”
read more…

International Images Film Festival for Women,
Zimbabwe upon presenting the Best Documentary Award

Taking Root underscores the critical importance of   education to a social movement. It portrays a vision of education that is not   about changing people’s heads, but ultimately changing the conditions under   which people live. We can talk in the classroom about education for social   change, but this extraordinary film provides a model for change that engages   and inspires. It is worth a hundred hours of classroom talk…both the film   and the woman are truly extraordinary!”

Dr. Thomas Heaney,
Adult & Continuing Education
National-Louis University


Links to other resources Official   site:


From filmmakers Alan Dater and Lisa Merton:

We hope that TAKING ROOT: The Vision of Wangari Maathai will help viewers to see their relationship to the natural world in a different way. The connection between a healthy environment and healthy communities is at the core of the work of the Green Belt Movement, the NGO that Wangari Maathai founded in 1977, when she realized that the problems the rural women were having were directly related to their degraded environment. In taking steps to ameliorate their situation by planting trees, these women were not only addressing their immediate problems but the root cause of those problems as well.

Viewers   have been moved and inspired by TAKING ROOT, and we hope that inspiration   leads to action. The path that Wangari Maathai took from environmental   justice to social and economic justice and then, ultimately, to peace, is   what inspires audiences. They start to make connections that they have   perhaps not made before.

In   that spirit, we have partnered with the Katahdin Foundation to produce an action   guide. The guide encourages people to take action in   their local communities by becoming aware of trees and encouraging people to   plant trees, and to make the connections between tree-planting, clean air,   strong children and healthier communities and ultimately a healthier planet.   We hope that TAKING ROOT encourages viewers to ask questions such as, “Who is   living in degraded environments in the United States and why?” and then to   seek solutions.

We   also hope that the historical context of the film will raise awareness about   how colonialism across the globe has been, and continues to be, at the root   of environmental destruction in the “developing world.” Viewing the   land as a commodity, and the extraction of resources as more important than   anything else, has led us to the global climate crisis in which we find   ourselves today. This way of doing business in the developing world continues   without taking into account the livelihoods, well being and environmental   sustainability of local communities; we take what we need and leave.


Deforestation   101:


Cameroon: Bush meat

Title Cameroon: Bush   meat
Director(s) Julien Ansault
Date released (year) 2009
Production company Tony Comiti   Productions
Length 26 mins
Location Cameroon
Keywords/tags Environmental   degradation,  natural resources, deforestation
Link to film
Synopsis Cameroon used to have the strongest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa but the   collapse of its export trade in the 1990s had a devastating effect on the   entire country. The devaluation of Cameroon’s currency provoked an   unprecedented economic crisis, leading to hunger riots in 2008. People turned   to the forest, hunting animals like monkeys or chimpanzees for food. But as   Cameroon’s population has exploded, the forest’s resources are being   exhausted. We follow one poacher who relies on bush meat from animals and   here from an environmentalist who’s spent the last ten years trying to save   chimpanzees.Source:
Links to other resources THINK AFRICA PRESS:At local markets in provincial centres across Central and East Africa,   bushmeat is traded. A vast array of wild meat, including those of protected   species such as elephants, hippos, and chimpanzees, is openly traded.

Some estimate that some six million tonnes of bushmeat are   extracted from Africa’s forests annually and the booming business has   resulted in the sharp declines, and in some instances localised extinction,   of wildlife species. The hunting of wild animals at such alarming levels is   thought to be the leading cause of wildlife depletion in Africa’s tropical forests,   with allegations that it may also be   responsible for the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in people coming in to   close contact with infected animals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo   and Uganda.

The bare necessities

The trade in meat from wild animals has long been recognised as the primary threat to the   biodiversity of tropical forests, but tackling practices of eating endangered   animals is no simple task. To begin with, in remote rural communities,   bushmeat is often linked to issues of food security and economic viability.

In a recent study, Robert Nasi, Director of   the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry comments that:   “For people in the countryside, bushmeat is a crucial part of their diets,   and we cannot simply tell them not to eat it – they will always continue   to…in cities it is somewhat easier to find other sources of protein than in a   village in the middle of the forest.”

Bushmeat consumption in rural Central African households, for example,   can provide 100% of animal protein intake. In   addition, a study in Cameroon identified that up to 33% of village income was derived from   the sale of bushmeat.

However, there are also fears that consumption of bushmeat could be   the cause of major health risks in humans. Recent warnings   from health officials working in the DRC have sought to discourage people   from engaging in activities involving contact with infected animals in light   of the suspected outbreak of the Ebola virus in the country which was first   reported on August 17.

Hungry for hippos

In large cities in the likes of Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Cameroon,   a growing trade in ‘luxury’ bushmeat is now   being driven by urban elites, amongst whom the exotic nature of bushmeat is   prized as a symbol of privilege.

One factor contributing to this trend has been the growing migration   from the countryside to cities. Newly-settled urban dwellers familiar with   their remote rural backgrounds can provide access to a nuanced index of   available bushmeat. Moreover, interaction between different ethnic groups can   transform beliefs over the ‘taboo’ nature of certain species into recognition   of their tradable market value elsewhere.

Bushmeat trade has been further assisted by the building of roads into   remote rainforest territory. In particular, logging companies, usually   accompanied by large workforces, have created expanding networks of roads   into previously untouched wildlife territories. This can have many unintended   repercussions.

A report from the Wildlife Conservation   Society in New York comments that: “Logging companies frequently regard wild   meat as a free subsidy to feed their workers, with logging roads improving   connectivity between wildlife and markets. Typically, the advent of roads   leads to rapid increases in commercial hunting and subsequent population   crashes of exploited species.”

The circle of life

As hunting becomes increasingly commercialised, wildlife ecosystems   are being placed under intense pressure. Furthermore, as local species are   overexploited and yields decrease, hunters move to other territories,   creating ever-expanding zones of wildlife depletion. This has led to what has   been described as the ‘empty forest syndrome’ whereby key   ecological species responsible for fundamental environmental processes become   locally extinct. Invariably, cascading consequences disrupt key ecological   and evolutionary processes, altering species composition and reducing   biological diversity.

Unsurprisingly, the negative impact   on animal populations has been startling. Primate populations in certain   areas of Equatorial Guinea, for example, have fallen by 90% and disappeared   altogether in other areas. Meanwhile in parts of Cameroon, large mammal   species including elephants and lions have become extinct through hunting in   the last 50 years.

Monkey business

Looking past the ecological and environmental aspects, the   accelerating bushmeat trade intersects with poor civic governance and local   conflict. In fieldwork conducted in the Democratic   Republic of the Congo, for example, it was found that, “in urban bushmeat   markets, protected species comprised more than half of all bushmeat sales   during peacetime and increased fivefold in wartime”.

For this, military officials are most to blame. Tasked with patrolling   protected areas, select senior members of the armed forces are complicit in   the illegal hunting of protected species as a means of both gaining access to   informal economies and privileging clientele systems of governance. The   situation is further aggravated by the fact that during wartime, breakdowns   of authority permit open-access exploitation of local wildlife.

More broadly, policy initiatives have tended to prove ineffective,   being subject to corruption and remaining poorly enforced. For example, a   recent investigation in Mozambique conducted by   the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic found that government officials   and police officers were purchasing illegal bushmeat. The report pointed to   “the weak penal structure providing no deterrent to illegal hunters, and   failure of…the police to enforce fines imposed on illegal hunters”.

For solutions to be found to the bushmeat crisis, it is necessary to   recognise the socio-economic and cultural contexts within which practices not   only exist and succeed, but may currently be central to local diets and   livelihoods. The solution is not one of just enforcement, but of developing   sustainable and mutually beneficial projects that involve local communities   such as campaigns to discourage the consumption of endangered meat amongst   urban dwellers. Reducing illegal hunting requires the rigorous enforcement of   deterrents whilst offering alternative livelihoods for those engaged in the   trade.


Nasi, R.&   Van Vliet,   N. 2011. Empty forests, empty stomachs? Bushmeat and livelihoods in the Congo   and Amazon Basins, International   Forestry Review 13, 3: 355-368. Source:

Bushmeat Crisis   Taskforce, educational resources: