A Sweet Sustainable Solution in the Rainforest

Something beautiful happened in Borneo, where Willie Smits created a thrilling blueprint for restoring fragile ecosystems.

As you may know, the deforestation in Indonesia has affected much of the country; it has had massive environmental and social impacts… and massive it is not a word used lightly in this case. The deforestation is so massive that only the China and the United States produce more greenhouse gases.

This makes Indonesia the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

As I mentioned, Willie Smits, a trained forester, microbiologist, conservationist, animal rights activist, wilderness engineer, and social entrepreneur, came up with a sustainable plan to reverse this horrible damage.

Smits decided to start his project in Samboja, one of the poorest regions in Indonesia.

Image: Still Image/ Ted talks

Samboja’s situation in 2002. (Screenshot/TedTalk)

When the local people could not afford to maintain a crop, they burned the trees down, creating a painful loss for the biodiversity of the area.


People can not afore fertilizers, so they burned the trees

When people can’t afford fertilizers, they burn the trees. (Screenshot/TedTalk)


Fires become more frequent. Image: Still Image/ Ted talks

Fires become more frequent. (Screenshot/TedTalk)


After a wile you have an infertile land . Image: Still Image/ Ted talks

After a while, the land becomes infertile. (Screenshot/TedTalk)

Here is were Smit place their first office and started his plan.  Image: Still Image/ Ted talks

This is where Smits placed his first office and started his plan. (Screenshot/TedTalk)


4 years later we can see a green fertile lans. Image: Still Image/ Ted talks

4 years later, you can see green, fertile,reforested land. (Screenshot/You/TedTalk)


It is amazing, right? Of course it was not an easy road. I am sure in required constant hard work, but it surely was worth it.

Watch Smits’ 2009 TedTalks about this wonderful project to see how the magic happened:

NOTE: The core content of this talk has been challenged on a number of fronts. For details, and Willie Smits’ response, please see “A challenge to Willie Smits’ talk.”

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