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


Science, Social Studies, Economics

Resource Type

  • Videos, 8 minutes, 51 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Wangari Maathai & The Green Belt Movement

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  • 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. 

Teaching Tips


  • 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.
Scientist Notes

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.

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 8.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 (i.e., climate change).
    • 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.
  • Social Sciences
    • Civics and Government (K-12)
      • 8.9 Compare historical and contemporary means of changing societies and identify individuals and/or groups promoting the common good, including the importance of advocacy and activism related to socio-economic resistance (i.e., civil rights, LGBTQ+ rights, workers' rights) for the expansion of justice, equality, and equity for individuals and/or groups of previously historically underrepresented groups.
      • HS.11 Analyze and evaluate the methods for challenging, resisting, and changing society in the promotion of equity, justice, and equality.
    • Economics (K-8)
      • 7.8 Examine how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
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