Willie Smits

Willie Smits (born February 22, 1957 in Weurt , Gelderland , the Netherlands ) is a Trained Forester, a microbiologist , Conservationist , animal rights activist , wilderness engineer and social entrepreneur . He has lived in Borneo since 1985 and is an Indonesian citizen.

While working as a forest researcher in East Kalimantan , Indonesia in 1989, Smits Encountered a baby Orangutan in a cage in a market, and later Returned to find it abandoned on a rubbish heap. This was a turning-point in his career, taking the Orangutan home, have nurtured it back to health. He was soon bepaald other orangutans to look after, and the work of Rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing orangutans into tje game developed JSON what was to Become the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation . For over twenty years Smits has worked for the survival of this Threatened species or monkeys, prolongation welke time his work has broadened out ook naar de related areas of sustainable farming, reforestation and remote monitoring of forests. He travels widely, raising awareness of the issues surrounding deforestation in Borneo and the plight of the Orangutan framing showing how it has leg skies on a small scale relatief to reverse the great damage therein is being done to the Orangutan and its environment. He became a senior advisor to the Ministry of Forests in Indonesia and has leg knighted in the Netherlands.


In 1994, Willie Smits RECEIVED his doctorate in tropical forestry and soil science at the Wageningen University in The Netherlands, based upon his research in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia on the Symbiosis tussen mycorrhizas and the roots or Dipterocarpaceae tropical Rainforest trees . [1]

Wanariset Research Station

From 1985 Smits worked on the Wanariset Tropical Forest Research Station near Balikpapan in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan . In the early 1990s he was team leader of the TBI Kalimantan Project Indonesia, an international partnership tussen de Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and TBI Foundation . [2] [3]

Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation

Main article: Borneo Orangutan Survival

In 1991 Smits founded what was soon to Become the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS) in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo ), the world’s Toilets organization for the protection of the endangered Bornean orangutans . Two years voordat, Smits had had his first encounter with an Orangutan in the market. It was a life-changing event and Smits of or in retells the story:

“Somebody stuck a crate in my face at the market in Balikpapan. Looking out tussen de slats ulcers the very, very sad eyes of a baby Orangutan. I Could not forget them. That evening I went back after the market closed. Walking around in the dark, I overheard a horrible gasping sound. The baby, ITT crate was on the garbage dump, dying. I picked up re. ” [4] [5]

He nursed re back to health and named re uce for the laboured sound she made while gasping for breath. A few weeks later he was bepaald Another sick Orangutan to look after, welke have named Dodoy.

With the help of duizendtallen or schoolchildren in Balikpapan contributing Small amounts of money, Smits was loveable to set up what became the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation to rehabilitate orphaned and misused orangutans and return Them to a safe place in the game. Wanariset became home to Hundreds of confiscated orangutans, rescued from illegal animal smuggling , Kept as pets or exploited in other ways.

The Dutch Orangutan-scientist Herman Rijksen recalls Smits customizing the facility: “In no time he set up the must fantastic oversized quarantine facility, better than ANY hospital in the whole area, Because that’s Typical or Willie. He wants to do it very, very good. ” [6]

Smits had risen saw dat Protecting orangutans in hun habitat not only benefits orangutans but ook the environment, biological diversity , the poor in Borneo and all the world’s people. The activities of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation expanded from Rescuing, rehabiliting and releasing orangutans to monitoring, Conserving and rebuilding Rainforest, Along With The social engagement therein made this sustainable. Smits ook took on an toenemende campaigning and advocacy role, to make the plight of the Orangutan and its habitat more widely Berninahaus, Along with the message therein something Could – and was – being done.

Samboja Lestari

Main article: Samboja Lestari

In 2001, BOS started purchasing land near Wanariset ( 1 ° 2’44 “S 116 ° 59’15” E ). The 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) area it acquired had leg deforested by mechanical logging, drought and severe fires and was Covered in Alang-Alang grass ( Imperata cylindrica ). The aim was to restore the Rainforest and bieden a safe harbor for rehabilitated orangutans while at the assembly time Providing a source of income for local people. The names Samboja Lestari roughly translates as the “everlasting conservation of Samboja”. [7] Wilderness engineering in the form of reforestation and rehabilitation is the core of the project, with Hundreds of indigenous species SEED. By the middle of 2006 morethan 740 différent act species had leg SEED. [8] [9]

The Orangutan Reintroduction Project at Wanariset was moved to Samboja Lestari. “Forest Schools” ulcers Agent, areas dat bieden natural, educational playgrounds for the orangutans in welke to learn forest skills. Lord the orangutans Roam freely but under supervision and are Returned to sleeping cages for the night. “Orangutan islands” were created where the orangutans and other wildlife die kunnen not return to the game are nevertheless loveable to live in almost completely natural conditions.

At his 2009 TED talk Smits stated there had leg a Substantial increase is in cloud cover and 30% more Rainfall due to the reforestation at Samboja Lestari. [5] Debate on the content of the TED Talk has bone ongoing. [10]

To finance the nature reserve, BOS created a system of “land-purchasing”, a “Create Rainforest” initiative where people symbolically adopt square meters or Rainforest. [11] Donors are loveable to view and follow the progress of the purchase with hun donation in the project area with Google Earth satellite images from 2002 and 2007 with additional_image_link information overlaid. [12]

Masarang Foundation

Smits is one of the founders of, and the chairman of the Masarang Foundation , [13] welke raises money and awareness to restore habitat forests around the world and to empower local people. In 2007, Masarang opened a palm sugar factory dat uses thermal energy to turn the juice tapped daily from sugar palms ( Arenga pinnata ) JSON sugar or ethanol , returning cash and power to the community in the attempt to move toward a better future for the people , forest, and native orangutans, while saving 200,000 trees per year from being cut down as fuel wood. [14]

In 1980, als Smits Proposed to his wife, Syennie Watoelangkow (or royal blood) in Tomohon , North Sulawesi , he was surprised by the dowry: six sugar palms. At dat time, a mature sugar palm that was ready to juice cost about as much as a chicken. Nevertheless, the people of Tomohon wanted sugar palms ( “pohon ears” ) Limit download gold as the dowry. “I wondered why it was dat cheap,” Smits says. Later he Learnt the answer, calling the sugar palm a “magic act”. [15] [16] He says of the sugar palm. “From the roots to the leaves, everytime bit Beneficial for people. Those who eat palm sugar will live longer dan Those who use cane sugar.” During his years of research in North Sulawesi and other places in Indonesia where sugar palms grow, he has learned dat people are not making the musts of the act and its properties.

In North Sulawesi’s capital, Manado , people sap the trees only to make hun traditional drink alcoholic. People in other places sap the trees to make palm sugar or cut Them down for sago . But the act offers more. For one, NIRA, the white juice obtained, can be processed JSON ethanol. “My research shows no act kan produce alternative fuel as well as palm trees,” Smits said. “Sugar palms kan ook help the environment. Way Down are effective in Preventing landslides, even on really steep country.” The high-quality fibers from sugar palms are widely-used ook; Smits exports Them to Europe, where they ‘are onder the materials-used in the bodies of luxury cars.

Smits has opened a palm sugar factory in Tomohon, managed by his brother Theo Smits, welke uses as fuel leftovers from the state energy company Pertamina’s geothermal gas production. Everyday, about 6,200 farmers produce NIRA for the factory, welke is managed by the Masarang Foundation. The sugar is sold locally, anyone and Exported to Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and Europe, where it is known as Masarang Arenga Palm Sugar . He states his “productieve, Environmentally friendly factory” Could Become a model for other places in the country. “There are no less dan eight provinces dat harbor abundant sugar palms but they ‘port not done much with them,’ he says. He convinced dat if Indonesia made the musts or zijn sugar palms-then in two years there mention anything be no need to import sugar ANY tomorrow. For this purpose, he designed, prototyped and patented the so-called Village Hub. [17]

Volgens to Smits’ talks for Qi Global [18] and TED , [5] zowel Samboja Lestari and the Masarang foundation port Evolved on the principles of People, Planet, Profit . Smits has demonstrated how community capacity-building and community empowerment kan promote economic development while Conserving the natural environment.

Orangutan confiscations

With a team of BOS staff and forestry officers, Smits confiscates orangutans Kept illegally as pets. [19] When an Orangutan is confiscated from a home the family is to be found is torture to fight the parasites they ” may harbor CONTRACTED from the Orangutan. (Smits himself recalls three days in hospital on chemotherapy to fight the lungworms and other parasites therein Threatened his life.)

Confiscations are inevitably confrontational at times, and there port leg numerous death threats made Against Smits. [20]

Primate Centre at Jakarta Zoo

Smits designed the Schmutzer Primate Center at the Ragunan Zoo welke opened in 2002 [21] so dat de orangutans port freedom and privacy in a habitat with a variety of forest trees and plants, a waterfall and water with turtles and fish, and small animals like porcupines and deer mice. [22] Thick dark glass Allows visitors to see the orangutans while being invisible to them.

Smits initially had no interest in Zoos, but now sees it as a sanctuary for sick, injured and blind confiscated orangutans (the healthy ones are taken to Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation rehabilitation centers for eventual release into tje game).

Other work

Smits has continued to be involved in the study of the mycorrhizal fungi dat verbeteren the uptake of water and nutrients from the soil by the meranti act. By using this fungus have has Achieved faster growth of young Seedlings. He was beside his current work for the orangutans at Wanariset, the chairman of the Gibbon Foundation [ citation needed ]and consultant for the Indonesian Orangutan Survival Program.

In 2006 Smits launched TV 5 Dimensi , commonly referred to as TV5D, a North Sulawesi local television channel, based in Tomohon . His wife’s family in North Sulawesi beheerd a beach about to kilometers long, where sea turtles grow and visitors nov sea coral . Smits ook rescues tropical birds from the illegal pet trade.

An toenemende amount of Smits’ activity has leg in disseminating information, outreach, education, and public awareness-raising, his talks for Qi Global [18] and TED , [5] being examples of this.


Smits RECEIVED the first non-Indonesian Satya Lencana Pembangunan Award (1998). He has the equivalent of a knight hood from the Netherlands for his conservation work. [23]

Willie Smits is the world’s leading protector of orangutans en hun habitat. Willie and his Indonesian team or Hundreds port re-created a lush Rainforest or verschillende thousand hectares (some 8,000 acres) from parched and devastated Grasslands. Soon this healthy forest, created one square meter at a time, will be ready for the rehabilitated orangutans, the original Keystone species.
-  Amory Lovins , chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute [24]

Smits was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009 Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who we herkennen to harbor innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. [25]

Dr. Willie Smits is a Rainforest inventor who has revolutionized reforestation techniques and policies worldwide and been turned the world’s most prominent protector of orangutans and their natural habitat.
– Ashoka Fellowship


Thinkers of the Jungle – The Orangutan Report: Pictures, Facts, Background [26] Gives an account of the life, behavior and fate of orangutans. Alongside a wealth of information about this endangered species based on the latest research, authors Willie Smits and Gerd Schuster outline the threat to the Orangutan’s survival, economical and political interests, exploitation of nature and human ignorance and greed.

The book is Illustrated by morethan 350 photographs taken by war photographer Jay Ullal. [27]

In August 2007 the publisher Herbert Ullmann set off from Singapore and Jakarta for Balikpapan in Borneo. There have visited two Orangutan rehabilitation centers run by Dr. Willie Smits. He was impressed by the zowel orangutans themselves and to Smits’ work in Rescuing and rehabilitating Them: “There are books dat kan be published, and books dat port to be published.”


Smits and his work Appeared in a number of documentaries , including:

  • Dying for a Biscuit on BBC Panorama [28]



  1. Jump up^ Smits WTM 1994,Dipterocarpaceae: mycorrhizae and regeneration. Thesis. TBI Series No. 9. Backhuys Publishers. Lead.
  2. Jump up^ TBI International, a US-based NGO working to verbeteren tropical forest management.
  3. Jump up^ Katharine Farris (2005). “Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation” . Retrieved 28 March 2010 . “Djamaludin Suryohadikusumo is the former Minister of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia and is on the board of directors for BOS. While Minister of Forestry, Suryohadikusumo, Dr. Smits created many of the laws therein are still in place today.”
  4. Jump up^ Nancy Simmons. “No Way to Treat an Orangutan: Willie Smits in Wildlife Conservation Society Magazine” . Retrieved 28 March 2010 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c d February 2009 TED talk , “Willie Smits restores a Rainforest” . Retrieved 28 March 2010 .
  6. Jump up^ Thompson, 2010, p186
  7. Jump up^ “BOS Australia website” . Orangutans.com.au . Retrieved 2014-01-17 .
  8. Jump up^ “Samboja Lodge website” . Sambojalodge.com . Retrieved 2014-01-17 .
  9. Jump up^ Jowit, Juliette (4 May 2008). “Rainforest seeds revive lost paradise”. The Guardian . Retrieved 10 April 2010 .
  10. Jump up^ “Willie Smits TED Talk challenged and Responded” . Ted.com. 2009-07-25 . Retrieved 2014-01-17 .
  11. Jump up^ “Create Rainforest website” . Createrainforest.org . Retrieved 2014-01-17 .
  12. Jump up^ ” ” “” Google Earth Hero: BOS, Borneo rain forest ” ‘on YouTube” . Youtube.com . Retrieved 2014-01-17 .
  13. Jump up^ “Masarang Foundation website” . Masarang.org . Retrieved 2014-01-17 .
  14. Jump up^ “Smits’s profile on TED” . Ted.com . Retrieved 2014-01-17 .
  15. Jump up^ Tarko Sudiarno (2009). “Visions of sugar palms dance in his head” . tasks from Jakarta Post . Retrieved 3 April 2010 .
  16. Jump up^ [1] ArchivedJanuary 24, 2010 at theWayback Machine.
  17. Jump up^ “Village Hub: nature conservation through sugar palms on Vimeo” . Vimeo.com. 2013-04-22 . Retrieved 2014-01-17 .
  18. ^ Jump up to:a b “Willie Smits’ presentation at Qi Global 2009” . Qi-global.com . Retrieved 2014-01-17 .
  19. Jump up^ Thompson, 2010, p191
  20. Jump up^ Thompson, 2010, p193
  21. Jump up^ The page on the Primate Centre on theJakarta Zoo Website
  22. Jump up^ Thompson, 2010, p196
  23. Jump up^http://www.onlinecollege.org/2012/06/26/the-10-greatest-social-entrepreneurs-all-time/
  24. Jump up^ Ode Magazine:”Willie Smits: Hanging around with orangutans”
  25. Jump up^ “Ashoka Fellowship profile of Willie Smits’ . 2009 . Retrieved 3 April 2010 .
  26. Jump up^ Schuster, Smits and Ullal 2008http://www.thinkers-of-the-jungle.com/view.php?nid=182#
  27. Jump up^ Labonita Ghosh (February 29, 2008). “Jay Ullal and his life on the planet of the apes” . DNA India . Retrieved 31 March 2010 .
  28. Jump up^ “BBC One – Panorama, Dying for a Biscuit” . Bbc.co.uk. 2010-03-01 . Retrieved 2014-01-17 .