New years honours: Dr John Craig

By Mike Barrington

Dr John Craig is a top conservation biologist and landscape ecologist who practises what he preaches.

The 65-year-old scholar, who was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to conservation in the New Year honours list, has encouraged biodiversity by planting 200,000 native trees on his 300ha family farm at Pataua North, 35km north-east of Whangarei.

He and his partner, Dr Anne Stewart, run horses, operate a honey business in partnership with their daughter, and offer farmstay accommodation which enables others to share enjoyment of the environment they have created.

Dr Craig recently retired as Professor of Environmental Management after 36 years at the University of Auckland.

Born in Rotorua, he attended school in Whakatane, Palmerston North, Hamilton and Dunedin before studying at Otago and Massey Universities and beginning work at Auckland University.

He still does consultancy work, much of it involving birds and windfarms. His current areas of research are conservation management, industry attitudes to sustainability, and urban ecosystem management.

Dr Craig has been a leader, both nationally and internationally, in conservation, and is known for his role in the initiation of the Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary. He has won international and New Zealand awards for his conservation achievements.

He believes New Zealanders don't value native biodiversity highly enough.

"We think it's free, but it costs money to manage it," Dr Craig said. "We need to realise that conservation - which is just part of sustainability - is going to cost money, but we can make money out of it (as he and Anne are doing with their farmstay business)."

New Zealanders needed to see biodiversity as part of their heritage and work toward increasing links with it.

- Northern Advocate

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