Use Cases

Regeneration Hubs In Action

Some Sites Replicate the Original Sugar Palm Hub Model While Others Adapt the Design, Applying the Approach to Create Similar Processing Mini-Factories Focused on New Keystone High Value Forest Products

Regenerative Enterprise Factory & Reforestation, Indonesia

Project Type: Forest Protection & Reforestation/Indigenous Livelihood Improvement

Region: Asia

Masarang Foundation


This is the original Regeneration Hub Model.

The Village Hub in Tomohon

Copyright© Stichting Masarang International

This village hub in Tomohon was built with the help of Stichting Doenthe National Geograhicthe Rabobank FoundationSpie and the Ministry of Economics/RVO. The Villag Hub in Tomohon has important educational purposes for showing the viability of the sugar palm concept for remote areas in Indonesias rainforests.

Benefits for farmers

Its main goal is to make it possible for people in remote areas of Indonesia to be sugar palm farmers and make a decent living, while preserving the rainforest at the same time. With the help of these small mobile factories the sugar sap can be processed into sugar and provide a sustainable income.
Plans for West Kalimantan

Plans for West Kalimantan

The Village Hubs can be lowered into the forest by a helicopter. Willie wants to place these hubs in remote villages as well, for instance with the Dayak people in Borneo. The Dayak are traditionally hunters who are seeing their forests disappear due to illegal logging and palm oil plantations. The people are poor, are sometimes forced to work as illegal lumberjacks and there is little schooling and many social problems. However, in what is left of the forest, sugar palms are being planted. By delivering these ‘Village Hubs’ to the people, large quantities of sugar sap can be processed and many people can become sugar palm farmers. They can make a better living and preserve the forest at the same time. Not only do the Hubs process sugar sap, they are also equipped to immediately deliver clean bio-ethanol (healthier to cook on than wood), electricity, drinking water and even have tools for medical care.

Model History and Theory of Change

To rebuild orangutan populations, Dr. Smits believes it is crucial to both rebuild their forest habitat, as well as address the social causes of deforestation and orangutan habitat loss by empowering local workers to find alternatives to harvesting forests. Dr. Smits started his efforts with a team of 100 local workers to restore the Samboja Lestari which had been completely devastated by clear cutting. Covering approximately 1.5M hectares acres in Borneo, this healthy man-made rainforest – a first of its kind – is now home to the hundreds of rehabilitated orangutans. In rebuilding these forests, Dr. Smits attempted to recreate the extreme complexity of nature, impacting even the local microclimate.

To grow, protect, and preserve the forest land itself, his solution is simple: he offers local migrants free land to plant crops in the forest. In return for both the land and farming income, the villagers must protect the rainforest and the animals that live there. By improving around 6,000 villagers’ quality of life and building trust throughout the first community, since then the model has been replicated in 8 other locations and adapted to commercial scale singas and biocoal production by a large EU investment company, Dr. Smits has provided powerful incentives for both long-term ecological and economic restoration.

Key to his model’s success is the use of newly developed and sustained rainforest as a new source for freshwater, by both increasing and retaining more rainfall in the area. This is not only improved the protection from forest fires but also has increased the supply of clean drinking water to more than 30,000 people in surrounding cities. Dr. Smits has also created a water supply company with the local government to improve access to clean drinking water, with the profits being used exclusively to sustain the Samboja Lestari rainforest. Dr. Smits’ Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation has not only saved hundreds of homeless and mistreated orangutans, it has also provided them a new long-term habitat in the wild. His palm sugar factory has been pledged by the government to be a national project and will be replicated in eight provinces in Indonesia. By providing alternatives and proper incentives for the local community – through the extensive efforts of his Masarang Foundation – he has also achieved both economic and political legitimacy, and has established a model for restoring forest habitats worldwide.

What’s Next for Dr. Smits?

In 2020 Dr. Smits is now working on additional projects in an “at scale corporate partnership” with Arsari Environmental Industries. 

He is also working now one called Trees for Climate Health Campaign, now seeking $200K, located in the North Sulawesi province. The Temboan and Rumbia village districts project will take all his previous learnings and put them into action.  Tree survival rates are 90%+. 

“We have already planted millions of trees over  the last 20 years and are highly experienced. We have trained countless other people and supported their own planting of trees around Tomohon with proven good results. We use many species, so carbon sequestration rates vary by species.  Some legumes will produce 0.4 m3 per tree per year for ten years. Sg of 0.5 makes 200 kg of dry weight which is 100 kg C and 367 kg CO2 equivalent. Some ebony will do less than 5% of that but legumes are the species used initially to restore fertility and the correct microclimate.”

Dr. Willie Smits, 2020

75% and more of project beneficiaries are indigenous, people of color and women. Will improve water quality for the nearby village, stop fires, improve corals for local fishermen income, essential oil production, rattan for handicraft and more.

The project is watershed based and comprises almost 1.000 acres. The new forest will be amongst others used to release rescued and rehabilitated wildlife from our Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre. The special buffer zones will help provide jobs for 200 local families and keep out fire. The project includes detailed scientific studies on erosion, water quality, carbon sequestration and effects on socio economic improvements for local people. They need to plant at least 300.000 new trees. For the first year much investment in supporting infrastructure is needed.


Scaling Up

Clean Energy Reforestation, Indonesia

Project Type: Torrefaction bio-fuel factory/Reforestation

Region: Asia


Arsari Enviro Industri*

In Indonesia, Dr. Smits has been working on the Village Scale Hub Model for over 30 years. He began by replicating it. Now he has partnered with Arsari Enviro Industri and together they are now piloting a greatly Scaled-Up version of the design which is restoring and protecting 173,000 ha of degraded tropical forest.

This industrial scale torrafaction factory model can meet the needs of institutional scale investors, taking the brilliant Hub design to new levels of positive impact, with goals of scaling globally. Each of these plants can employ up to 60,000 villagers, bringing them new access to beneficial resources and financing environmental restoration at the landscape scale.

Regenerative Enterprise, Peruvian Amazon

Project Type: Reforestation & Forest Protection/Indigenous Livelihood Improvement

Region: South America and East Africa


Camino Verde

A Hub Adapted for Value-Added Processing of Sustainably Harvested Forest Products, Essential Oils & Rainforest SuperFoods

Camino Verde tree planting impact to date and goals:

Peruvian Amazon

2 Project Sites: Loreto and Madre de Dios

  • Over 400 Amazonian native species gathered, propagated and used in regeneration sites
  • 100 participating farmers in 2020 with plans to reach 500 by 2025
  • to date, regeneration sites in 2 regions, working with 6 indigenous and Amazonian smallholder communities 
  • 110,000 native trees planted in Peru by 2020
  • a million trees planted and registered by 2025
  • Regeneration partnership with supplying sustainably harvested essential oils to international leading regenerative cosmetics company Lush

Ampiyacu Apayacu Regional Conservation Area

Loreto, Peru

A recently created conservation area located between the regional capital Iquitos and the borders of Colombia and Brazil.  The buffer zone of Ampiyacu Apayacu is home to several native communities representing various ethnic groups. 

Camino Verde’s work in the region began in 2012 when linking with the Center for Amazon Community Ecology (CACE), a nonprofit focusing on value added non-timber forest products as a means for livelihood improvement in native communities.  We have worked in close collaboration with CACE ever since. 

Tambopata National Reserve 

Madre de Dios, Peru

One of the Madre de Dios region’s most important and vulnerable protected areas, with close proximity to the recently completed Interoceanic Highway and the regional capital of Puerto Maldonado. The Reserve is also home to several native communities. 

We began planting trees in the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve in 2006.  Our reforestation center, now a Conservation Area recognized by Peru’s Ministry of the Environment, is located between the Reserve and the Highway.

Madre de Dios borders Brazil, Bolivia, and the Andean regions of Cusco and Puno. 

“The Tropical Andes Hotspot is the most diverse in the world, topping the list of 36 hotspots for species richness and endemism. It contains about one-sixth of all plant life in the world, including 30,000 species of vascular plants, making it the top hotspot for plant diversity.”

-Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund

Camino Verde also works in East Africa

Consultations leading to 230,000 trees planted with 200 farmers by 2020

a million trees planted and registered by 2024 using 30-50 native species total

Future consultations in Tanzania:

goal of a million trees planted and registered with 300 farmers by 2023 using 30-50 species total

& Scaling Out

Regenerative Enterprise, Indonesia

Project Type: Forest Protection/Indigenous Livelihood Improvement

Region: Asia



#RAINFOREST VALUE EXPLAINED Forestwise is dedicated to creating #RainforestValue in order to sustain the rain forests of Borneo. We are creating markets for valuable products that are wild-harvested from the rain forest without damaging it. By helping to maintain the wild rain forest, we also conserve wildlife, generate employment and income for local inhabitants, and safeguard fresh water, fresh air and fertile soils.

Hubs create a regenerative alternative to African Palm Oil derivatives, an industry that is destroying forests around the globe.   In Indonesia Forestwise successfully supported 700+ Indonesian families by commercializing Illipe butter since 2018, and is ready to scale up with surrounding communities eager to join them.  Contracts were successfully executed with Lush Cosmetics, and were under negotiation with Dr. Bronner’s when COVID hit. COVID has had a negative impact on these companies who purchased less or put contracts on hold since March.  New buyers are now needed.   Goals are to expand supply by sharing the model with several other entities who want to replicate it in the region, so the association of harvesters/Hubs has the ability to supply larger companies. 

Regenerative Enterprise, Peruvian Amazon

Project Type: Agroforestry & Forest Protection/Livelihood Improvement

Region: South America


Shanao Cacao

Peruvian Andes, Moyobamba and across the Rio Mayo Valley

Shanao Cacao Collective (SCC) was formed to support the development of a regenerative hub in 2014, with the main goal of increasing farmer equity for cacao cultivation. Poverty is the main driver of deforestation across the Tropical Andes of San Martin, Peru, in which people often resort to unsustainable practices of farming to meet their needs, the biggest cause of deforestation in the region.  This especially involves the clearing of native forest for raising commodity crops, especially cattle, corn, cacao, and coffee. At the root of these issues are exploitative supply chains, that devalue the livelihood of indigenous communities and the ecosystems they manage.

The regenerative hub was developed by and for a network of over seventy five (75) farmers across the Rio Mayo Valley of the Tropical Andes, in efforts to increase their capacity to produce high quality, single origin cacao, and related earning, while incentivizing the diversification of native tree species through conservation and reforestation practices. 

Through the village hub approach,  SCC works with farmers to facilitate:

1.the formation of farmer led cooperatives and small business’ (e.g.-women led small venture development);

2. valued added practices (e.g.- Centralized processing facility for fermentation and drying of cacao);

3. Supply chain innovations (e.g.- Integration of systems that provide farmers with the ability to demonstrate transparency of practices by farm, including origins of products, and sustainability of reforestation and conservation by farm).

The regenerative hub in Shanao cost approximately $100,000EEUU in supply cost to build, including a large storage facility, solar dryers and batch fermenters, which has the capacity to process and store up to around 20,000 tons of cacao at one point in time. 

To run the village hub, a full-time coordinator position and approximately 10 part time staff are needed, which historically were paid through the cooperatives revenues. 

For the upcoming 2021 season, the biggest need is investment in the workforce, before scaling through building other regenerative hubs.

Over 2016-2019 harvest seasons, through the regenerative hub’s value-added practices, the cooperative made the following impacts:

  • Worked directly with 75 farmers that sold their cacao directly through the cooperative, producing approximately 100 tons over year 2016 and 75 tons of product over 2017-19. There were significant decreases in production due to plant diseases.
  • As key valued added practice, farmers significantly increased the quality of fermentation and drying of cacao, and produced single origin cacao by farm.
  • Farmers increased their earnings for their cacao harvest by approximately 40% (originally paid 5 S kilo / market price for raw product, paid 7 S kilo by cooperative).
  • The cooperative produced approximately another 75% in revenues, which went directly into employing farmers people in the community (sold valued added product around 10-14 S Kilo).
  • Village hub Coop created 8-10 part time employees, and full-time coordinator position (which was also partly grant funded).
  • The farmers planted over 3,000 native trees through the Village hub – nursery.
  • The farmers developed a system for making compost tea, in efforts to prevent frosty pod rot in cacao. 
  • ·         The farmers began tracking cacao harvest and processing by farm (to demonstrate consistency of quality for buyers).

Using a baseline of 75 tons of cacao produced through village hub/ coop, for $100,000 investment, the village hub could produce $50,000 in ROI (75*2 dollars/ kilo in profits split between farmer and cooperative= $150,000 total revenue.

The goal of SCC over the upcoming year is to continue to work with farmers to expand cooperative membership, and develop value added practices that directly employ farmers.  We hope to work with regional partners to develop scalable- supply chain approaches to directly funding farmer equity and conservation/ reforestation across the Tropical Andes.  Across the Rio Mayo Valley, there is a need for satellite processing facilities that can be utilized by consolidated groups of farmers, especially in Moyobamba.  In addition, we hope to work with cacao buyers and investors with a vested interest in sourcing sustainable, quality cacao.  Through this effort, we aim to continue to work with partners to develop transparent, data driven approaches to farm management, that mutually benefit the farmers, buyers, consumers, as well as investors and philanthropists.