Eco-pioneer dies in Kenya

Former Nobel Peace Prize winner organized the Green Belt Movement

Environmental visionary and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai died on Sept. 25 at age 71.

She was the first African woman to win the prize, in 2004, and the first recipient to win for environmental activism. She died while undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer in a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.

In the late 1970s Maathai (pictured) led the Green Belt Movement, which has planted 47 million trees in Kenya in an effort to improve the living quality in poverty-stricken areas. The trees provide resources and a means to protect watersheds, and stabilize soil for agriculture.

Maathai was elected as a member of Kenya’s parliament in 2002, and remained active in areas of sustainability, peace and justice until her death.