Indonesia: A man who in four years organized the reforestation & repatriation of a 1000 species


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. Willie Smits was recently nominated one of Ode’s top 25 intelligent optimists by Amory Lovins. “Willie Smits is the world’s leading protector of orangutans and their habitat,” says Lovins. “The ecosystem [he has built] is beautifully and comprehensively integrated with the local economy, making the people so much better off. This may be the finest example of ecological and economic restoration in the tropics.”

Willie Smits’s accomplishment is the perfect example of finding a
best-of-all-worlds solution. Smits did not “merely” create a
rainforest in a barren, fire-prone plot of land. He has also involved
local people and created 3,000 jobs.

He gave people a rainforest and economic incentives to preserve the forest. His meticulously engineered and implemented plan refused to make trade off between his passion for conservation the need of locals for a sustainable lifestyle.

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