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Database Provider


Dan Castrigano


Physical Geography


6th, 7th, 8th


Social Studies, Geography


80 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Wangari Maathai & Deforestation

Created By Teachers:
Last Updated:
Apr 21, 2024
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This lesson introduces African environmentalist Wangari Maathai and links deforestation with the concepts of governance, poverty, and income opportunities for women in Kenya. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students watch a video explaining ways to monitor the world's forests. Next, students explore the Global Forest Watch Interactive Map showing the health of the world's forests.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students watch a video about Wangari Maathai & The Green Belt Movement. Students answer guided questions as they watch the video.

Step 3 - Inspire: Teacher reads Wangari Maathai’s version of the “hummingbird story.” After listening, students write pledges about how they can contribute to restoring our Earth.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips
  • Learning Wangari Maathai’s story is empowering for students because it emphasizes the fact that nobody is too small to make a difference. Maathai grew up in poverty in rural Kenya. Now she is remembered as one of the most powerful voices for environmental conservation, proper governance, and peace.
  • This lesson can inspire students to take direct action, just like Wangari Maathai.
  • This lesson is excellent for teaching the interdependence of environmental conservation, proper governance, poverty, income opportunities, and women's rights.
  • Global Forest Watch is an incredible resource. It has beautiful, detailed data. Students may want to continue exploring on their own time.
Additional Prerequisites
  • Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) was an environmental and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization focused on planting trees and promoting gender equality.
  • Making the connection between deforestation and other topics (governance, poverty, income opportunities, and women’s rights) might be difficult for some concrete thinkers.
  • You could frame these topics using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
    • Goal 1: No Poverty
    • Goal 5: Gender Equality
    • Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
    • Goal 15: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
Scientist Notes

This lesson introduces students to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Wangari Maathai and deforestation. The Global Forest Watch resource is continually updated. This lesson has passed the science quality assessment.


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

Note On Standards:

This lesson is aligned to SubjectToClimate standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

Discover more on SubjectToClimate.
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