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To commemorate and honor the life of Professor Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Laureate who died earlier this year, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) opened Forest Day 5 with a short and moving video about her work.
Many of the participants credited Maathai for inspiring them to act on behalf of their environment -- from Odigha Odigha, the chairman of the Cross River State Forestry Commission, who has devoted his life to the protection of the last tropical rainforests in Nigeria, to the child advocate Felix Finkbeiner who created an organization called Plant for the Planet and attended Forest Day with his posters.
According to the Guardian newspaper (Dec. 7, 2011) Maathai was also the touchstone of US President Barack Obama's address to climate change negotiators last week in Durban:
"Wangari's work stands as a testament to the power of a single person's idea that the simple act of planting a tree can be a profound statement of dignity and hope first in one village, then in one nation, and now across Africa," he told ministers and conservationists at the UN talks in Durban, via a video message.