Sir Alan Mark.
The University of Otago will confer an honorary doctor of
science degree on Sir Alan Mark, one of New Zealand's leading
plant ecologists and conservationists, this weekend.
Sir Alan (81), an emeritus professor in the university's
botany department, was yesterday ''delighted'' to gain the
''very unexpected'' honorary degree.
It was also ''very reassuring'' to have been honoured in this
way, given that, over the years, several environmental topics
linked to his research had been ''somewhat controversial''.
The degree was an acknowledgement from the university and
scientific peers that sound scientific research had
underpinned his efforts to ensure the water levels of Lake
Manapouri and Lake Te Anau were managed sustainably, and that
the country's highland tussock grasslands were too.
He was chairman of the Guardians of Lakes Manapouri and Te
Anau for that organisation's first 26 years.
Not every environmental cause he had backed had been
successful, and the outcome over proposed development at the
Denniston Plateau had been a ''great disappointment'', he
The degree will be conferred at the second of two graduation
ceremonies, beginning at 4pm, at the Dunedin Town Hall on
Sir Alan will also give the graduation address.
Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said Sir Alan was
''an inspirational figure'' both in and beyond Otago.
He was ''an effective critic and conscience of society''
whose standing was ''grounded in leading research'', she
Born in Dunedin, Sir Alan was appointed professor of botany
in 1975, having first joined the Otago department in 1955.
Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1978,
he also received the society's Hutton Medal in 1997, and the
Charles Fleming Award for Environmental Achievement (2010).
In 2009, he was made a Knight of the New Zealand Order of
Merit for his science-based conservation work.