By piecing together a complex ecological puzzle, biologist Willie Smits has found a way to re-grow clearcut rainforest in Borneo, saving local orangutans -- and creating a thrilling blueprint for restoring fragile ecosystems.
About Willie Smits
Willie Smits has devoted his life to saving the forest habitat of orangutans, the "thinkers of the jungle." As towns, farms and wars encroach on native forests, Smits works to save what is left.
Why you should listen to him:
Willie Smits works at the complicated intersection of humankind, the animal world and our green planet. In his early work as a forester in Indonesia, he came to a deep understanding of that triple relationship, as he watched the growing population of Sulawesi move into (or burn for fuel) forests that are home to the orangutan. These intelligent animals were being killed for food, traded as pets or simply failing to thrive as their forest home degraded.
Smits believes that to rebuild orangutan populations, we must first rebuild their forest habitat -- which means helping local people find options other than the short-term fix of harvesting forests to survive. His Masarang Foundation raises money and awareness to restore habitat forests around the world -- and to empower local people. In 2007, Masarang opened a palm-sugar factory that uses thermal energy to turn sugar palms (fast-growing trees that thrive in degraded soils) into sugar and even ethanol, returning cash and power to the community and, with luck, starting the cycle toward a better future for people, trees and orangs.
"This man has dedicated his life to saving the world, and for this he earns our deepest respect."
Jean Kern, Ode
this is lovely!
"I was so inspired that last night during sleep time i imagined Australia and Africa revitalizing with water. In the current National Geographic it shows all the draught around the world and off course there are floods as well - too much water - I am seeing and feeling balance and growth all round again. I feel this inspiration is key - a blessing I'd like to invite you to share with me BALANCE within and BALANCE on the outside too.
Keep feeling good - the unified field of love is stronger than ever." - darinka