Greenpeace is deeply saddened by news of Professor Wangari Muta Maathai's passing away. It is a sadness we are sharing with people right across the African continent, and the world.

File photo: Wangari Maathai (right) and forest campaigners in Sweden, 2005. © Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

Professor Maathai was instrumental in the anti-deforestation movement, and a passionate fighter for human rights and social justice for the communities that depend on forest resources. She lived and worked in Nairobi, Kenya.

Wangari Maathai was also a Nobel Peace Laureate, an environmentalist, and the founder of the Green Belt Movement; a woman who stood up and fought fearlessly for the better management of forests -- and the communities that depend on them -- at a time when no one else would.

As a consequence of the work she did, Professor Maathai and other Green Belt Movement staff and colleagues were repeatedly beaten, jailed, harassed, and publicly vilified by the Moi regime in Kenya over the years. It is this persistence and courageous attitude on the part of Professor Maathai that has resulted in her becoming one of the most admired and respected women in Kenya.

"She is an exemplary character in the environmental movement and her legacy will be felt by many future generations" said Anne Lamont, Interim Executive Director for Greenpeace Africa.