One of Indonesia's most ardent rain forest protection activists is in what may seem an unlikely position: Spearheading a project to produce biofuel from trees.
But tropical forest scientist Willie Smits, after 30 years studying fragile ecosystems in these Southeast Asian islands, wants to draw world attention to a powerhouse of a tree—the Arenga sugar palm. Smits says it can be tapped for energy and safeguard the environment while enhancing local food security.
Smits says that the deep-rooted feather palm Arenga pinnata could serve as the core of a waste-free system that produces a premium organic sugar as well as the fuel alcohol, ethanol, providing food products and jobs to villagers while it helps preserve the existing native rain forest. And scientists