Wanjira Mathai is Senior Advisor on Forest Restoration for the World Resources Institute (WRI).


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It’s quite simple really. You want to protect the things you love. And just what you love is often determined in very early childhood. Wanjira Mathai talked to Silvia Richter about imparting values, the importance of role models and the potency of empowerment.

Ms Mathai, for years you have been engaged in showing people the significance of intact forests. Why is this topic so important to you?
One aspect is that to me, food security and forest integrity are inextricably linked. Because, especially in countries like ours on the African continent, food production is largely reliant on rainfed agriculture. We are dependent on the climate – a climate which was very well understood and predictable in the past. We knew that the rain would come in March, so there were certain things you had to do on the land by March. In March, April, and May, you had rains. But that is very closely related to the integrity of forest systems. Forests are part of the climatic cycle. Without them, you are unable to create the conditions that bring rain, which is also needed to feed the rivers. A lot of agriculture depends on the water that is flowing in the rivers.

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