Wangari Maathai Forest Champion Award 2012

Wangari Maathai Award winner Narayan Kaji Shrestha at the award ceremony, FAO headquarters, RomeNarayan Kaji Shrestha has won the first-ever Collaborative Partnership on Forests Wangari Maathai Award for his outstanding contribution to forests.

The award was established this year to honour the life and work of the late Kenyan environmentalist Maathai, a champion of forest issues worldwide and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr Shrestha is recognized as one of main architects of the community forestry movement in Nepal, which he has spent three decades promoting and which has contributed significantly to restoring forest resources in the country.

He guided early attempts to create a more participatory approach to community decision-making, reaching out to women and low-caste villagers and initiating the country’s first user-managed community forestry group.

More than one-quarter of Nepal’s forests are now protected by community forestry user groups.

In addition to influencing legislation, Dr Shrestha provided leadership to the national organization that later became the Federation of Community Forestry Users in Nepal and continues to be a guide and mentor to many practitioners and leaders involved in participatory resource management. 

“Dr Shrestha’s work captures the spirit of Wangari Maathai,”said FAO Assistant Director-General, Forestry, Eduardo Rojas Briales. “His vision, courage, commitment, intelligence and praxis is recognized though this award.”

Dr Shrestha received the USD 20,000 award at a ceremony at FAO headquarters in Rome during the FAO Committee on Forestry and 3rd World Forestry Week meetings.

Kurshida Begum of Bangladesh receives a special Honourable Mention prize from CPF Chairperson Eduardo Rojas-BrialesThe jury also awarded Kurshida Begum of Bangladesh this year’s Honourable Mention prize for her work helping women in her village form a community patrol group alongside forest department guards to protect the forests and biodiversity of the Tenkaf Wildlife Sanctuary from illegal logging and poaching.

Her work has helped women gain an effective voice in their community, provided them with a steady source of income and has helped her communicate the importance of forest and natural resource issues to visitors to the sanctuary.