He has revolutionized reforestation techniques and policies worldwide

Willie Smits

Founder, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland

Why you should listen

Willie Smits explores regenerative solutions to the declining state of our rainforests.

A trained forester, microbiologist, wilderness engineer and social entrepreneur, he has consistently worked to address the root causes of deforestation by addressing the relationship between the animal world, our planet, and humankind.

He has fought against illegal logging practices and palm oil plantations that contribute to the destruction of rainforests. He has also led the reforestation of more than 500,000 hectares of degraded forest.

One of the world’s most prominent protectors of orangutans and their natural habitat, he has revolutionized reforestation techniques and agricultural policies worldwide for a more sustainable future for all.

Meet Willie at Worldwebforum 2020 where he is a Future of Work Track Speaker.

About BOS Foundation

Established in 1991, Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation is an Indonesian non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Bornean orangutan and its habitat, in cooperation with local communities, the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and international partner organizations.

BOS Foundation is currently taking care of almost 650 orangutans with the support of 400 highly devoted staff, as well as experts in primatology, biodiversity, ecology, forest rehabilitation, agroforestry, community empowerment, education, and orangutan healthcare.


Re-growing an ecosystem

Willie Smits pieced together a complex ecological puzzle. He has found a way to re-grow clearcut rainforest in Borneo, saving local orangutans — and creating a thrilling blueprint for restoring fragile ecosystems. He is saving what is left from deforestation and bad environmental practices and using technology to create a more efficient system of restoration.


Dr. Willie Smits (1957) is a forestry engineer, microbiologist, conservationist, animal activist and social entrepreneur. He lives in Tomohon (North Sulawesi) and is an Indonesian citizen.

For over thirty years Smits has been working for the conservation of endangered primate species such as the orangutan. During this time he has expanded into related areas including sustainable agriculture, reforestation and forest monitoring.