Saturday, September 6, 2014

Comprehensive conservation book for High school students and adults

Paradise Saved by Dave Butler, Tony Lindsay & Janet Hunt (Random House)

Janet Hunt is well known for her award winning books 'A Bird in the Hand', 'E2 Call Home' 'From Weta to Kauri' and 'Wetlands of New Zealand'. For this book she has collaborated with two other conservationists - Tony Lindsay and Dave Butler - to bring us the remarkable story of New Zealand's wildlife sanctuaries. 

I live near three wildlife sanctuaries: Tawharanui, Motuora Island and Little Barrier Island, of which two I've visited several times and I am involved with kiwi releases on Motuora Island every September - March over the last eight years so I was keen to see what the authors would write about these islands and other sanctuaries. I showed the local DOC (Warkworth) office the book and they oohed and aahed over it. They were pleased to see their work being recognised in a beautiful book.

The book starts when Aotearoa separated from Gondwana super-continent and became a natural lifeboat thereby creating a unique range of fauna and flora.

"If you wanted to establish the particular ecological features of New Zealand, you might start by casting adrift a piece of land carrying a small crew of plants and animals - with not a mammal to be seen. You would float it over hot-spots, generating volcanoes. More plants and animals would come aboard by flying, swimming or drifting alongside on ocean debris. Eventually you would anchor it at between 35 and 47 degrees south ..."

The three writers use this storytelling style to show why we needed sanctuaries, how they were first set up,  and then take us to each (130) sanctuary one-by-one from the island sanctuaries, mainland sanctuaries, fenced sanctuaries, open sanctuaries, to the community sanctuaries, kiwi sanctuaries, and sanctuaries with a species focus. We also read about the organisations who are involved with the sanctuaries movement such as DOC, Forest & Bird, regional and local councils, Landcare Research, Native Forests Restoration Trust, etc. The book covers issues the sanctuaries face and how they are being solved or faced, and looking to the future of how they are going to control and perhaps get rid of the predators that are causing so much trouble for our natives in New Zealand.

Janet Hunt is a trained graphic designer and I'm sure she would have had a bit of say in the design (designer is Kate Barraclough); to the placing of the gorgeous photographs and maps, attractive headings and subtitles, and page number tab identification (a Janet Hunt feature). At the back of the book is an extensive index and list of sanctuaries.

It is an ambitious book and probably took a few years to research, write and gather photographs. I believe the book is long overdue and will be of interest to not only conservationists and people who work in the above organisations but also to people who visit these sanctuaries regularly to see our unique fauna and flora that New Zealand is so lucky to have.

The book targets adults but High School students and schools will also find it a useful resource for studying endangered species for natural history/science assignments.

ISBN: 9781869796860
RRP $55

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