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Why WeForest

The global efforts are not going to be sufficient to keep global warming and its dramatic effects - such as spread of infectious diseases like dengue fever, more frequent and stronger floods and droughts - under control. Global emissions must peak at the latest by 2020 and the excess carbon dioxide must be removed from the atmosphere now. A simple solution exists that will buy us time until a low carbon economy is available everywhere. Healthy and growing forests remain the best technology for removing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Our vision 
We imagine a world where communities and nations sustainably manage their forests and natural resources for the benefit of our climate, our environment and humanity.

Our mission
Building upon corporate and scientific partnerships, WeForest empowers communities to sustainably advance and implement innovative, high standard, scalable and lasting solutions to restore forest landscapes.

Our values
The values that inspire our work are: Integrity, Transparency, Excellence, Collaboration, Passion, and Courage.

Our goal
Our goal is to successfully transform 250,000 ha of forest landscape by 2021, restoring  25,000 ha of forests (with an estimate of  25 million trees) demonstrating FLR best practices in different ecosystems and leading to the adoption of an international standard.

Trees are the best known ‘technology’ to cool our planet:
they absorb the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 50% of a tree’s biomass is actually carbon! Forests also make clouds by releasing water vapour and microscopic nuclei in the atmosphere, which through a high albedo effect, reflect the solar radiation back into space having a global cooling effect.

Why it matters

We plant trees and bring back forests in order to Make Earth Cooler.
Our mission is to scale-up, monitor and report on the impact of forest and landscape restoration, contributing to the realisation of the NYDF (New York Declaration on Forests), in order to limit global warming to 2 °C temperature increase.

Explore our approach

How it all started

The idea of WeForest came to Bill Liao in 2008 out of a thorough search for scientific evidence : Bill wanted to find a simple solution to the urgent issue of global warming. Marie-Noëlle Keijzer met Bill in 2009 and they decided to transform this idea into an NGO. WeForest has overtime developed a unique capacity to mobilize companies  (ranging from start ups to large multinationals) to engage their employees and millions of consumers in restoring the world’s forests.

Who We Are

Our team is spread over 3 continents and 12 countries sharing the same commitment for a better world.

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    Marie-Noëlle Keijzer
    Co-founder, vice-president of the board, Board Member WeForest France, and CEO
    Marie Noëlle provides strategic guidance to the organization. As a multilingual social entrepreneur with 22 years of experience in senior corporate leadership in Supply Chain, CSR and business transformation, she offers expertise in business development, strategy, marketing, communication, advocacy and public speaking. She holds a Master's degree in Environmental Science from the ULB, Belgium, a Master's degree in Business Administration from IADE, Spain and is a member of Al Gore's Climate reality Corps.
  • David Wright
    David Wright
    Chief Operations Officer

    David has over 15 years’ experience in international conservation. His field experience spans more than 25 countries, across six continents, and has been acquired with international NGOs, corporates, consultancies, and as an independent consultant. He has expertise in the establishment of protected areas, corporate/NGO partnerships and the development of ecosystem-based climate change adaptation projects in Least Developed Countries. Originally from England, David holds an MSc in Resource Management from the University of Edinburgh and is based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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    Victoria Gutierrez
    Chief Science Officer

    Victoria currently oversees the NGO’s research programme and she advises and assists on the technical aspects of the forest restoration projects. She has a strong background in ecology and social sciences. Previously she was a senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of West London. She holds a PhD in primate behavioural ecology from the University Complutense of Madrid. Victoria is based in London, UK.

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    Nicolas Dupont
    Chief Finance & Administration Officer (CFAO)

    Nicolas is responsible for the  Finance, HR, Legal, and IT functions of WeForest. He also provides guidance in risk management and strategic planning. He holds a Masters in Business Management and has developed a generalist profile through senior positions in the non-profit sector, as well as project management and auditing roles in the private sector. Originally from France, Nicolas is now based in Ghent, Belgium.

  • Manon
    Manon Koningstein
    Chief Marketing and Communications Officer (CMCO)

    Manon is responsible for the Marketing and Communications at WeForest. She holds a European Masters Degree in Intercultural Communications from Utrecht University, the Netherlands. She has over six years of experience working on communication for development, especially focused at topics as gender, agriculture and forestry, with previous work experiences with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Manon has lived for over nine years in Latin America, is currently based in Spain and speaks fluent Dutch, English and Spanish.

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    Aklilu Negussie Mekuria
    Country Director Ethiopia

    Aklilu oversees the various landscape restoration and planting projects in Ethiopia. He holds a PhD in Bioscience Engineering from the University of Leuven (Belgium) and a Master's degree in Tropical Land Resources Management from Mekelle University (Ethiopia). Prior to joining WeForest, Aklilu conducted research in Africa and Europe for 12 years in forest ecology, management science, ecosystem safety, invasive plant, agronomy, plant propagation, bioenergy-biofuel, forest entomology, and non-timber forest products and worked for two years as a Consultant at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

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    Matthias De Beenhouwer
    Country Director Zambia

    Matthias is in charge of the landscape restoration and planting projects in Zambia. He coaches the local teams and makes sure that the forest restoration projects are performed according to the foreseen activity plan. Matthias holds a PhD in Forest Ecology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He has 5 years of experience working on agroforestry, forest ecology and conservation and has worked in several countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.

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    Ricardo Cesar
    Country representative Brazil

    Ricardo is responsible for the implementation and the scientific aspects of WeForest's forest restoration projects in Brazil. He holds a PhD in Forest Resources and Restoration. During his academic journey, Ricardo had the opportunity to work with international researchers and contribute to several research projects in ecological restoration that are currently published in high-impact scientific journals. He has expertise in forest management for ecological restoration, natural regeneration, restoration of degraded sites and forest landscape restoration.

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    Bill Liao
    Co-founder and Chairman of the board
    Bill is a social networking pioneer, author, speaker, engaged in not for profit work. Among his non-profit endeavours he is a CoderDojo mentor and he has participated as an investor and volunteer in The Hunger Project. He has also been appointed as a special diplomatic envoy for St Kitts and Nevis for sustainable development and the environment, role which was at the source of the WeForest movement.
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    Marie-Noëlle Keijzer
    Co-founder, vice-president of the board, Board Member WeForest France, and CEO
    Marie Noëlle provides strategic guidance to the organization. As a multilingual social entrepreneur with 22 years of experience in senior corporate leadership in Supply Chain, CSR and business transformation, she offers expertise in business development, strategy, marketing, communication, advocacy and public speaking. She holds a Master's degree in Environmental Science from the ULB, Belgium, a Master's degree in Business Administration from IADE, Spain and is a member of Al Gore's Climate reality Corps.
  • Astrid
    Astrid Leyssens
    Board Member WeForest Belgium
    Astrid Leyssens is founder of "Do Good Marketing" which provides marketing and CSR consultancy for scaling NGO’s, start-ups and other companies that want to do the right thing. Astrid holds master degrees in economics and marketing and is currently working on a CSR degree. She is a seasoned impact investor in Asia, Europa and Africa and studied impact investing at Oxford University. She is a true believer of business as a force for good. Astrid is active as Co-President in the Belgian Marketing Association for its Hub Marketing and Society to facilitate more marketeers towards doing good. Astrid is committed to making tree-planting the most logical thing to do for companies wanting to join the fight against global warming.
  • Jan Vets
    Jan Vets
    Board Member WeForest Belgium
    Jan has 30 years experience in strategy, business and IT. He holds master degrees in telecommunications and business administration. He is an entrepreneur and actively building a global consulting company. Jan is driven by sustainability and international collaboration, as drivers for a better world.
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    Tom de Fauw
    Treasurer, Corporate and Project Finance
    Tom is an entrepreneur by spirit and passioned about forestry and agroforestry. He holds a Masters Degree in Commercial and Financial Sciences, Post University Degree of the Belgian Association of Financial Analysts, 10 years senior international corporate leadership experience in Finance and Business Development.
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    Philip Greffin
    MA General Management
    Director Business Development France, Board Member WeForest France

    Philip holds a Master's degree in General Management (ESSEC, France) and has 14 years of business experience as a Managing Director for an international company.

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    Alexandre Baudin
    Lawyer
    Board Member WeForest France
    Alexandre is a lawyer at PACT Avocats Paris, France. He specialized in Business Affairs and decided to join WeForest France and use his competencies and network to fight climate change.
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    Sébastien Le Bescond
    Board Member WeForest France

    Masters degree in General Management (ESCP, France).
    25 years of business experience as a Marketing and Sales manager mainly in French and International food companies. In 2013 Sébastien took his family for a 1 year trip around the world to meet its inhabitants and discover our beautiful planet. 

  • Jerome Boutang
    Jerome Boutang
    Board Member WeForest France
    Jerome is the Executive Director of the Center on Atmospheric Pollution and Greenhouse Gases (CITEPA), in Paris, France. With a background in Agronomy and Economics, as well as 25 years of successful international consulting in the industry, he has long been confronted with risk perceptions & communication, as well as decision-making regarding food and environmental issues.
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    Molly Reams Thompson
    Director WeForest Inc, USA

    Creator, mentor and community catalyst, Molly founded multiple companies, worked with early stage companies to help set strategic direction and has completely rebuilt two non-profit programs from the ground up. She thrives when connecting people, ideas and resources. Before jumping into the startup game, she spent 15+ years in strategic marketing and sales. Molly is actively engaged in making communities socially, environmentally and economically sustainable, focusing in the areas of entrepreneurship, the arts and local food.

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    James Haft
    Chairman WeForest Inc, USA

    Entrepreneur and Merchant Banker with broad experience in all aspects of forming, managing, advising, fund raising, and biz dev for entrepreneur-powered businesses, including, business strategy and M&A. Significant and relevant experience with Internet apps and platforms, integrated media, on-line advertising, on-line metrics, mobile apps, telecom, energy, emerging markets, financial consulting, real estate and venture capital.

     

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    Dmitri Leonov
    Board Member WeForest Inc, USA

    Cofounder at SaneBox, a leading email productivity app. Prior to Sanebox, Dmitri founded Wanto (a social networking app for people with common goals) and spent several years at Overture (acquired by Yahoo). While at Yahoo, he was responsible for launching Yahoo's Global Search Reseller Channel, and led business development efforts in Emerging Markets.

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    Leendert Adriaan Bruijnzeel

    Leendert Adriaan Bruijnzeel (also known as Sampurno) is an Emeritus Professor of Land Use and Hydrology of the VU University Amsterdam where he last led the Amsterdam Critical Zone Hydrology Group before becoming a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College London (UK) in September 2015. He has over 40 years of experience in hydrological research in the humid tropics of the Asian-Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central and South America and published over 235 scientific publications on hydrological processes as well as on the influence of land cover and land use change (especially deforestation and reforestation) on catchment water yield, soil erosion and sedimentation; his other research interests include nutrient cycling and productivity of natural and planted forests, and ecosystem services. His books include ‘Forests, Water and People in the Humid Tropics’ (2005) and ‘Tropical Montane Cloud Forests’ (2010). In 2005, he received the Busk Medal of the Royal Geographical Society (UK) for his contributions to field biosphere research in the humid tropics.

     

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    Robin Chazdon

    Robin Chazdon is the Director of an international and interdisciplinary research coordination network, PARTNERS (People and Reforestation in the Tropics), established to address the social and ecological drivers of reforestation in the tropics. She is the Executive Director of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, and a professor in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Connecticut, USA. More recently, she joined the International Institute of Sustainability (IIS) in Rio De Janeiro as a Senior Research Associate to work on forest restoration in Brazil. Professor Chazdon specializes in ecology and regeneration of tropical and temperate forests, conservation and restoration of tropical forests, tropical second-growth forests, biodiversity and conservation in agricultural landscapes. She is an author of over 130 peer-reviewed scientific articles and co-editor of two books. Her sole-authored book Second growth: The promise of tropical forest regeneration in an age of deforestation was published in 2014.

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    David Ellison

    David Ellison is a Researcher/Consultant who works as an External Expert for the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU, Umea), the European Forest Institute (EFI—Bonn), and as an Independent Senior Researcher (Ellison Consulting). His work focuses broadly on the science, politics and policy of climate, and primarily on forests and their relevance for climate and policy. Forest-Water Dynamics and how these impact moisture vapour transport and water availability across terrestrial space, as well as the potential role for forests in Climate Change mitigation and adaptation, form one research focus. Carbon accounting practices in Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) in the international UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) policy frameworks, as well as regional and national climate policy frameworks, form another. He is the lead author of several articles on Forests and Water, and LULUCF carbon accounting practices in Global Environmental Change, Global Change Biology, Environmental Science & Policy and other journals.

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    Cindy Morris

    Cindy Morris is Research Director and Head of the MISTRAL research team at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Avignon, a unit that focuses on plant pathogens that are dispersed in the atmosphere and water. She set-up Biological Ice Nucleators, an online forum and database on the role of microbes in atmospheric processes. Her research in bacterial ecology led her to study the link between landscape, airborne microorganisms and climate processes, and more specifically, the catalysing impact of these organisms in cloud formation and precipitation. Dr Morris has worked to build a network of physicists, microbiologists, meteorologists and agronomists for interdisciplinary collaboration.

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    Daniel Murdiyarso

    Daniel Murdiyarso is a Principal Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and a Professor at the Department of Geophysics and Meteorology at Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) in Indonesia. He is a member of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences. In 2000 he served the Government of Indonesia as Deputy Minister of Environment for two years, during which he was also the National Focal Point of the UNFCCC and CBD. Dr Murdiyarso was the Lead Author of the IPCC Third Assessment Report and the IPCC Special Report on Land-use, Land-use Change and Forestry. His research relates to land-use change and biogeochemical cycles, climate change mitigation and adaptation. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters on these relevant topics.

  • Bart Muys
    Bart Muys
    Bart Muys is a professor of forest ecology and management at KU Leuven. His research focuses on the ecosystem function of tree diversity, forest restoration ecology and the evaluation of sustainability in forests and bioenergy systems. He has led several forest restoration projects in Ethiopia and participated in numerous projects worldwide on the role of forests for water, carbon and biodiversity.
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    David Sands

    David Sands is Professor of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology at Montana State University, USA. He is a specialist in agricultural plant science, plant bacteriology, biological control of weeds and biotechnology. His work includes the ecology, detection, characterization and control of plant pathogens, Pseudomonas syringae and Xanthomonas campestris that have been linked to cloud formation and biological precipitation. Professor Sands has produced three new gluten crops and two low glycaemic crops for diabetics. He has received awards from the Lindbergh Foundation for his work producing biofuels and bio-lubricants, and from the Gates Foundation for his work in Kenya on the successful biocontrol of Witchweed, considered a major biological constraint to crop production in sub-Saharan Africa.

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    Iain Woodhouse

    Iain Woodhouse is Professor of Applied Earth Observation at The University of Edinburgh and founder of REDD Horizon, a capacity development programme in Malawi. His research focus is on measuring and mapping essential forest parameters from aircraft and satellite, so as to better understand and manage forest resources. He is a co-founder of Ecometrica, a land use and carbon accounting company, and Carbomap, a forest survey company specialising in multi-scale approaches involving radar, and LiDAR (from airborne and UAV platforms).

  • Pedro Brancalion
    Pedro Brancalion

    Pedro Brancalion became a university professor at the very early age of 29. His current research aims to obtain agricultural production and environmental sustainability at the landscape scale. He published more than 100 scientific articles and is the main author of a book on restoration ecology (and participated in many other books). Pedro collaborates with a wide network of national and international researchers. In November 13th 2018 he received the Bunge award (celebrating outstanding Brazilian citizens since 1955) for the "Environmental Services and Agribusiness" category.

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    Chris Barton
    Ambassador

    Chris is responsible for business development with mobile operators/carriers at Dropbox. He also serves on the board of Shazam Entertainment. Prior to Dropbox, Chris spent nearly eight years at Google focused on mobile with his last two years on the Android business development team. Chris was the original CEO and Founder of Shazam Entertainment, the London-based music recognition company.

     

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    James Cooke
    Ambassador

    From crashing Compuserve while broadcasting a Smashing Pumpkins concert live from Dublin in 1996, through to co-producing U2's online presence for almost a decade. With a passion for doing the right thing, James is a well seasoned internet veteran having worked with numerous platinum selling artists and premium magazine publishers along the way.

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    Tom Eddington
    Ambassador

    Tom has spent the last three decades as a consultant, educator, entrepreneur, and strategic advisor. He is a student and teacher of Board, leadership and organization effectiveness.

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    Serge de Gheldere
    Ambassador

    Serge de Gheldere is lead at Futureproofed (the carrot) and Klimaatzaak (the stick), and ‘climate ambassador’ for Al Gore. Serge trained as an engineer in Leuven (B) and in Delft (NL) and worked for Baxter Healthcare for 7 years - including 15 months in Chicago. Serge has given hundreds of lectures all over the world including - Stanford, Yale, Tsinghua Beijing, India, Dubai, Togo , Budapest - on the choices we face regarding climate change and the opportunity of a sustainable economy."

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    Yves Lemarchand
    Ambassador

    Yves is managing director of Experience Scotland Ltd. and Honorary Belgian Consul in Scotland since 1996. He’s been supporting WeForest since its beginning with an original idea: celebrating the turn of the year with trees (2016= 2016 trees!) and talking about the need to act for climate within his large network.

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    Nina Neelson
    Ambassador

    Problem Solver in any transformational scenario, Nina is an Entrepreneur; Visionary; Idea Generator and Implementer.

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    Anju Rupal
    Ambassador

    Anju is a serial, now social entrepreneur who believes that the purpose of business extend well beyond profits alone. Anju was one of the early  members of the WeForest team, she used this learning curve to later launch Abhati Suisse. Anju’s background as a sociologist and ethnologist were truly brought into play when she visited India and witnessed the devastating lack of sanitation and education. She mobilised some of the most renowned industry experts from beauty and design to work for free and contribute their skill sets to develop an all-natural skincare range, raising funds to ultimately make an impact in the lives of hundreds of girls in India.

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    Cathy Symington
    PhD
    Ambassador

    Cathy is a passionate and compelling educator in environments, sustainability and biological sciences with 15+ years experience as a lecturer.  She is skilled in coaching and consulting in leadership, effectiveness and engagement with over 12 years in this discipline, as well as being accredited as a mediator for dispute resolution.

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    Nick Wentz
    Ambassador

    Nick currently works at SaneBox where he leads the growth and marketing team. Prior to SaneBox he was involved with various startups and non-profit organizations where he focused on user acquisition, content strategies and partnerships.

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    Desmond Tutu

    We are grateful to Nobel Peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu for his support to WeForest and for writing the foreword to Bill Liao's book 'Forests'

    "The World’s Forests are a Shared Stolen Treasure that we must put back for Our Children’s Future". [Desmond Tutu]

     

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    Jeremy Irons

    Actor and activist, Jeremy Irons kindly lent his wonderful voice for one of WeForest's first videos.

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    Stephen Fry

    English comedian, writer, television personality and journalist, kindly offered his voice for one of our first WeForest videos

Contact us to Make Earth Cooler

WeForest offers immediate solutions for your company to do more for climate. Growing your company forest, becoming carbon positive, whilst supporting several SDGs.

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WeForest asbl/vzw
Ogentroostlaan 15
3090 Overijse - Belgium
Office: +32 2 308 49 43
Cell: +32 474 07 07 62

Any questions? Check our FAQs.

For more specific questions or to start Making Earth Cooler, fill in the form (on the right) or send us an e-mail via contact@weforest.org and our team will get back to you. It's as simple as that!

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