Thursday, 1 November 2018, the RAFT Partnership and the sustainable forest management community lost a dear colleague, teacher and friend with the passing of Arthur (Art) W. Klassen.
Although struggling with health problems for the better part of the last year, Art, with his characteristically amazing dedication and energy, continued working right up to his final days.
I personally first met Art in 2009 at a RAFT Partners’ Meeting, at which I would continue to see him annually for the next 9 years, among the many e-mail and phone exchanges and various travels related to RAFT’s work.
Art is well-known by most for his deep, hands-on knowledge of Indonesia’s forestry sector and of forestry operations in the tropics more broadly, and his tirelessly pragmatic approach to safeguarding tropical production forests.
Those who had the opportunity to work closely with Art will also recall his keen awareness of the importance of communicating our conservation work, and his own knack for clear, concise and powerful messaging about the work that he strongly believed needed to be done.
Some of the biggest impacts of Art’s extensive experience in improving forest management practices and reducing the impacts of forestry operations on the environment were felt in Indonesia. Art’s legacy can be seen, among other places, in Indonesia’s growing area of certified forest over the last decade.
In recent years, Art had also begun to introduce and adapt methods and tools developed in Indonesia to countries like Myanmar and Papua New Guinea. Even with a relatively short engagement, the practical, clear and relatable nature of Art’s training approach have been received with great appreciation and introduced new ways of thinking about forest management and timber supply chains to key institutions that are already taking hold.
In Indonesia, TNC has been very pleased in recent years to be able to work with Art and TFF to build on the Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) technique so closely associated with TFF and with Art himself, and show how these kinds of practices can help fight climate change.
I have long said that working with and learning from people with different organizational, professional (and philosophical) perspectives is one of my favorite things about my job, and Art is such a fantastic example of that.
When I think about Art today, I am reminded to keep strong the connection between theory and the reality of the myriad details on the ground that influence land management decisions and behavior. I am also reminded to stay hopeful, focused and driven.
RAFT Program Manager
The Nature Conservancy