Regrowing the Rainforests?

Willie Smits has found a way of regrowing rainforests that have been cleared.

He tells us about it in the excellent, informative and inspiring video above.  The audience begins to applaud when he announces that he has over 1000 rescued orangutans in his two centres but he stops them dead . . . “No, no, wrong!  This is horrible.  This is proof of our failing to save them in the wild.  It’s not good.”

No, a man-made refuge centre is simply not a suitable home for these gentle and intelligent creatures.  Only a rainforest, their natural habitat, is good enough for these wonderful beasts.

So what does this amazing guy Smits do?  He builds them a rainforest.  And more than that . . he creates thousands of jobs involving the local people and he incentivises them into caring for and preserving the forest.

Amory Lovins said of him . . .

Willie Smits is the world’s leading protector of orangutans and their habitat. 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.

About Earthie

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8 Responses to Regrowing the Rainforests?

  1. the Grit says:

    Hi earthpal,

    Growing forests, of any type, isn’t much of a problem. All you have to do is refrain from cutting the trees for a few decades and, bam, forest. The real problem, at least for the long term, is how to keep the population of people from growing.

    the Grit

  2. earthpal says:

    Hi Grit,

    I’m talking about regenerating rain forests that have been subjected to deforestation, slash and burn and agriculturalisation. It’s not quite as simple as that. It’s actually very difficult to regrow rainforests and rebuild fragile ecosystems. Watch the video. It’s very good.

    You have a fair point regarding human population growth.

  3. matt says:

    EP, good to hear from you. You’ve been quiet of late over at your blog.

    Anything positive done for the orangutans gets my vote. I’ll check the video out over the weekend. I’m off to the pub. 🙂

  4. earthpal says:

    Hi Matty,

    Hope you enjoyed your evening at the pub. I don’t seem to have the time to blog much these days. My life seems to revolve around kids and work and not much play for me.

    Yes, do try to watch the video. It’s really positive and inspiring.

    By the way, is agriculturalisation a real word or did I just make it up?

  5. the Grit says:

    Hi EP,

    Actually, it is that simple. Although it’s not a rain forest, I’m letting nature take its course on 40 or so acres of land at the moment, and the new trees seem to be doing quite well. After only six years or so, they are starting to shade out the under growth, and in another 10 the area should have an interlaced canopy dense enough to cut out all competition. 50 or 60 years from now you would have to take core samples to know it wasn’t an old growth forest. It’s interesting to note, however, that the nut producing trees are much better represented in the new growth than ones that only produce seeds. My guess is that our dense squirrel population is responsible. Still, all our native trees are in there, along with a couple of imports.

    the Grit

  6. matt says:

    Any photos Grit of your forest/farm?

  7. matt says:

    EP, just watched the whole video presentation. The guy’s a genius and also I admire him for his perserverance and ability to see things holistically, as inter-linked and with minimal interference of his personal ego in driving the project, hence his diplomacy in dealing with the local people to which the project would have obviously failed without them intricately involved.

    The locals have their crops and home, the orangutans their part of the forest, the nearby city sees the rainfall return to help deal with their water problem. Interesting to see the trees (some 1600 species) help to form local rainfall, not like in temperate regions.

    So happy to see someone doing something intelligent. Wonder how it’s funded.

  8. the Grit says:

    Hi Matt,

    Unfortunately, no. I really should have made an effort to do a pictorial history of the changes, but when I started I didn’t have a digital camera, and I’m also kind of lazy. Still, I have great hopes that some of the massive amount of borrowed money our new Government is throwing around will wind up in my hands so I can buy the appropriate recording equipment and hire unskilled help to record the progress of my endeavor. Of course, since I don’t wear a suit every day and haven’t invested billions of dollars of other people’s money in failed shady deals, I somehow doubt that I’ll see any Federal dollars come my way. Ain’t life grand?

    the Grit

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