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Custodian, thoughtful. © The African Biodiversity Network
April 2012

Custodians of sacred sites in Africa unite

The traditional custodians of sacred sites from four African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda) met on 28 April in Kenya to create a common guideline to help other custodians everywhere in Africa in their fight to protect their sacred places. Quote from the introduction of their statement:

'We are deeply concerned about our Earth because she is suffering from increasing destruction despite all the discussions, international meetings, facts and figures and warning signs from Earth.

'The future of our children and the children of all the species of Earth are threatened. When this last generation of elders dies, we will lose the memory of how to live respectfully on our planet, if we do not learn from them. Our generation living now has a responsibility like no other generation before us. Our capacity to stop the current addiction to money from destroying the very conditions of life and the health of our planet, will determine our children's future.

'We call on governments, corporations, law and policy makers, and civil society to recognize that Africa has Sacred Sites and custodians who are responsible for protecting them, in order to protect the wellbeing of the planet.'

At their meeting, the custodians compiled 14 'common customary laws of sacred sites' – you can download the paper here (140Kb)

source: The African Biodiversity Network

see also: Mapping sacred sites for their protection, Protecting sacred natural sites worldwide, Sacred Site to be recognised term

Wangari Maathai. © Green Belt Movement
Sept 2011

Wangari Maathai has died

Wangari Muta Maathai (born 1 April 1940, the Kenyan environmental and political activist, died on 25 September 2011 of complications from ovarian cancer. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. So far, over 51 million trees have been planted, and over 30,000 women trained in trades such as forestry, food processing and bee-keeping. Many communities not only in Kenya have been motivated to both prevent further environmental destruction and restore that which has been damaged.

In 2004, Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize.


Here's a tribute video

Related articles
Logo der Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall
June 2010

The Great Green Wall of Africa

The Great Green Wall (French: Grande Muraille verte) Spanish Gran Muralla Verde is a project to halt the spread of the South Sahara. The transcontinental belt is planned to be 15km (nine miles) wide and 7,775km (4,831 miles) long and will be made completely of trees. This equals the reforestation of 15 million hectares of land.

The project is held by the African Union and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF)*. An inter states organization was established to effectively implement the project in each of the eleven member states.

* The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is an independent financial organization uniting 182 member governments, in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector, to address global environmental issues. According to their website, they are the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment, having allocated US$8.8 billion, supplemented by US$38.7 billion in co-financing, to more than 2,400 projects in more than 165 countries.

Landkarte Sahel

On 17 June 2010, the GEF announced that Africa's green barrier will be funded by a US$119 million grant. The project had long been searching for funding: it had begun to take shape in 2005, the idea first appeared in 2002 and can be traced back to projects fighting desertification in Burkina Faso under president Thomas Sankara. Inspirations are the (more decentrally organized) Green Belt Movement initiated by Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, and the Green Wall of China (see tree news Jan. 2010).

source: Great Green Wall website

Iguazu Falls, Brazil. © gary yim/
March 2010

The real importance of the Amazon rainforest

Peter Bunyard, the science editor of The Ecologist and of Science in Society, has published an article called 'The Real Importance of the Amazon Rain Forest'. He hopes to draw attention to the work of two scientists from the St Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute who show to what unexpected extent the rainforests are responsible not only for the moist, fertile climate of South America and Central Africa, but the equilibrium of world climate.

The research by A.M. Makarieva and V.G. Gorshkov, the Russian scientists, challenges the established views of climatologists and renders all current computer simulations regarding 'global warming' incomplete and inaccurate. Hence they have been adamantly ignored by the scientific community.

Bunyard states that 'the implications of Makarieva and Gorshkov's thesis are enormous; essentially it means that South America cannot do without its rainforests' …and neither can we in the northern hemisphere.


source: Peter Bunyard, The Real Importance of the Amazon Rain Forest, ISIS Report, 15/03/2010
string: All climate models questionable!, Amazon deforestation fails to improve local life

clearfelling in the Brazilian rainforest. © Edward Parker
Jul 2003

USA to start global initiative against illegal logging

The USA have started a global initiative against illegal logging and hence for the preservation of the tropical rainforests. Foreign Affairs Minister Colin Powell made public on Monday the fact that Third World countries will now be aided in their fight against the illegal timber trade. The US would support local police forces and supply modern technologies to monitor activities in the woodlands.

The initiative focuses on the Congo and the Amazon, as well as the tropical forests in Latin America and south-east Asia. As an example, Powell mentioned Liberia, whose president Charles Taylor used illegal timber trade profits to buy weapons. According to estimates by the World Bank, developing countries lose 10 to 15 billion dollars annually to illegal logging.

source: dpa [German press agency], July 29, 2003

The German Minister for the Environment, Juergen Trittin, pointed out the importance of the role of Germany and the European Union in the conservation of the last tropical rainforests. The EU supports a comprehensive approach for efficient conservation of the rainforests. He describes the latest American initiative as half-hearted. 'It is not enough to supply developing countries with surveillance technology. Only a more far-reaching approach, encompassing financial aids, sensitizing the buyers' market for illegal products, and a system of benefits and sanctions, can limit the illegal logging of the rainforests effectively.' (The German government finances forest projects in the developing world with over 125 million Euro, £83m, annually.)

source: dpa [German press agency], July 30, 2003