Conservation International (CI) is saddened to report the death of Henri Blaffart, a spirited and devoted conservationist who helped manage the Mont Panié Special Botanical Reserve in New Caledonia.
Blaffart, 42, was swept away by the flooded Tiendanite River on March 21, 2008, while traveling in Province Nord, where he worked with the Kanak communities on management of the Mont Panié reserve.
A native of Belgium, Blaffart worked in Africa, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, and New Caledonia after receiving his degree in agronomy, with a focus on water and forests, from the Faculty of Agronomic Science of Gembloux, Belgium. He graduated with great distinction in 1990.
He had been working since 2002 with the CI-funded Mont Panié reserve project, and formally joined CI in 2006 as project chief at Mont Panié.
The Mont Panié region of New Caledonia is rich in unique biological diversity depended on by people living in the region, and Blaffart worked with the Province Nord government, the Caledonian Institute of Agronomy, the Dayu Biik Association of local tribes and other scientific, academic, government and environment organizations in helping protect such an important nature area.
"Henri was a truly devoted professional as well as a joyous and wonderful human being," said Claude Gascon, CI’s executive vice president for regional programs, who recently climbed Mont Panié with Blaffart. "He will be remembered as a true conservation warrior, working under the hardest of conditions for the mission of CI."
Blaffart is survived by his mother and sister, both living in Belgium.