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In 1977, Professor Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots environmental organization that empowers communities, particularly women, to conserve Mother Earth and improve livelihoods. Wangari Maathai encouraged the women to work together to plant trees. This helped to bind the soil, store rainwater, and provide food and firewood. The tree-planting became an empowering symbol of peace. Experience had taught Professor Maathai that the wellbeing of both the environment and the people is linked with good governance, human rights, and preserving cultural values that enable communities to sustain their land and livelihoods.