14-Year-Old Hanoian Wins International Young Eco-Hero Award
Forests are vital to life — they purify the air, provide oxygen, and serve as an important buffer against climate change. Besides the intangible contributions, forests are a source of food, shelter, fuel, and means of livelihood for the tribal people living in and around the forest area.
In Vietnam, forests are an important ecological resource, valuable for the socio-economic development and well-being of communities throughout the country. In fact, there are about 25 million Vietnamese people, for whom 20%, or by some estimates up to 40%, of their annual income comes from the forest, per 2019 data from the Forest Science Institute of Vietnam (FSIV).
As of 2020, Vietnam has a total of 46.7% of its land area covered by forests. And thanks to Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính, who committed and signed an end to deforestation by 2030 at the COP 26 in Glasgow last year, the country is expected to have healthier and wider forests in the years to come. Vietnam is the second country in Southeast Asia, along with Indonesia, that pledged to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 as a tool to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise.
‘Nature explorer, education enthusiast’
From a generation that revolves around smart devices and is tech-savvy, Linh Nguyen Than Thuy chose to explore the forests and fell in love with the trees in sixth grade. But that wasn’t too long ago, Linh is only 14 years old, and her dedication to protecting the largest and oldest living things on Earth has grown more profound now than ever.
Earlier this week, Action For Nature, a nonprofit organization encouraging youth to take personal action to nurture and protect the environment, announced the 16 young environmental activists from across the globe to receive a 2022 International Young Eco-Hero Award.
Linh was one of the recipients of the award that honors eco-conscious youth ages 8 to 16 who are taking crucial steps to solve tough environmental problems.
A panel of independent judges, including experts in environmental science, biology, and education, assessed and handpicked this year’s winners.
Not only that, but Linh also won the Dr. Mary Griffin-Jones Award for her project, “A Piece of Forest for You.” The Dr. Mary Griffin-Jones Award, named for the physician, author, artist, and founding member of Action For Nature, is a new addition to the set of awards that celebrates a young person who is pursuing environmental activism through art and literature.
When she was young, Linh’s family traveled to several forests. But when they returned to her home in the city of Hanoi, “she realized that many children there would never be able to breathe the cool forest air and would not understand the value of forests and the need to protect forest ecosystems.”
Her unfortunate realization pushed Linh and two of her friends to develop, write and fund the publication of their book “A Piece of Forest for You.” At 12, the three of them were determined to share interesting information with children about what a forest is, its trees, plants, and animals, and why its protection is important through their book.
Thanks to the support from local media, the book sold out its first 2,000 copies and is in its second printing. True to its mission of saving the forests, over $4,000 in book sales was donated to the Forest Plantation Fund for the Meo Vac District in the Ha Giang Province of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
After that, Linh continued to visit schools and festivals to promote the book and to raise awareness about the importance of forests.
“I hope that through the book, I can provide knowledge for young people, especially children living in urban areas, so that the young generation can understand, love, and protect forests,” Linh said. “Besides, through the sale of books, I want to take practical actions to contribute to planting more trees.”
Beryl Kay, President of Action For Nature said young people like Linh have shown that the next generation of leaders is here, and they are taking action across the globe now to address the climate crisis and solve local, national, and global environmental challenges.
“The projects that young people like Linh have created are having real and important impacts on their communities, helping to solve global climate challenges, and are inspiring others – including adults – to do what they can to help,” Beryl added.
Linh’s About page on her blog simply says, “A nature explorer. An education enthusiast.” And she has stood by that simple words at an early age, hoping to create awareness for her generation and the next.
Linh’s also been recognized locally. In July this year, she received the Vietnam Environment Award, the highest environmental award for individuals, presented by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
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