2012, Rome - The first-ever Wangari Maathai Award has been given today to a forestry activist from Nepal to recognize his efforts to promote community forest management. The ceremony took place at the Committee on Forestry (COFO), at FAO headquarters in Rome.
Wangari Maathai Awards were established by the Collaborative
Partnership on Forests (CPF), of which FAO is an active member, to
recognize the efforts to improve and sustain forests and to honour the
memory of Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist and the first
African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to
sustainable development, democracy and peace.
The top prize was
awarded to dedicated activist Narayan Kaji Shrestha from Nepal for his
outstanding contribution in promoting community forest issues in Nepal
for several decades at international forestry events.
Kaji Shrestha's work captures the spirit of Wangari Maathai," said FAO
Assistant Director-General for Forestry, Eduardo Rojas-Briales. "His
vision, courage, commitment, intelligence and praxis is recognized
though this award."
Narayan Kaji Shrestha guided early attempts
to create a more participatory approach to community decision-making,
reaching out to women and low-caste villagers and initiating the
country's first community forestry group. More than one-quarter of
Nepal's forests are now protected by community forestry groups. The
prize includes a cash award of $20,000.
This year the jury has
decided to give a special Honourable Mention prize of $2,000 to Kurshida
Begum of Bangladesh for her exceptional efforts in helping women of her
village form a community patrol group alongside forest department
guards to protect the forests and biodiversity of the Tenkaf Wildlife
Sanctuary from illegal logging and poaching.
The Awards ceremony
was attended by Rosemary Wanjiru Maina, niece of Wangari Maathai, and
Professor Stephen Kiama Gitahi of the Wangari Maathai Institute for
Peace and Environmental Studies.
The Collaborative Partnership on
Forests is comprised of 14 international organizations working together
to promote forest management, conservation and sustainable development.