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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Economics, Justice, World Languages, Other

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Wangari Maathai & The Green Belt Movement


  • This video features Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist, political activist, and founder of the Green Belt Movement. 
  • Students will learn about the connection between environmental, societal, and economic sustainability. 
  • The Green Belt Movement works with rural women to plant trees in previously deforested areas. This work reduces erosion, protects clean water supplies, and provides income opportunities. 


  • Wangari Maathai's grassroots approach to solving big problems makes her an inspirational figure and an excellent role model.
  • Students will learn how the Green Belt Movement transformed tree planting into an economic investment to generate income and reduce poverty in local communities, in addition to helping reduce erosion and protect water resources.

Additional Prerequisites

  • It would be helpful for students to be aware of the many ecological benefits of trees such as producing oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, stabilizing soils, reducing erosion, providing habitat, and regulating the water cycle.
  • Wangaari Mathai died in 2011.


  • Social studies, history, or ethics classes could discuss how deforestation in Kenya caused many problems for people, especially those living in poverty.
  • Economics classes could discuss the economic opportunities that the Green Belt Movement was able to include in their environmental project. Students could brainstorm other environmental projects that could help lift people out of poverty.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video on Wangari Maathai's life and legacy, this video about a young boy who was inspired by the Green Belt Movement to start a tree-planting movement, and this Ecosia video on the importance of forests.

There is no contradiction in the video. Deforestation is tackled using a site-specific and bottom-up approach including nature-based solutions. This video is recommended for educators to teach students to understand the importance of tree planting as an investment to generate income and reduce poverty in local communities.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.14.6-8 Compare historical and contemporary means of changing societies, and promoting the common good.
      • D2.Civ.14.9-12 Analyze historical, contemporary, and emerging means of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights.
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.6-8 Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
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