John and Viv Burton
An appreciation December 2019 Roberto Pedraza Ruiz
For John and Viv, This album is presented as a tribute to your joint efforts at creating, developing and driving the World Land Trust into what it is in 2019: a thoroughly innovative and effective conservation organisation that is known and renowned globally. It has been a long, and often arduous, journey over thirty years, but your persistence, perception and ability to create lasting and intense relationships have paid off. So, this album tries to chart the course of WLT’s development and achievements. But there are some caveats. Because I have tried to do this in secrecy, or at least without your being aware of it, there may be many stories and better photos that I have not accessed. But, I have been amazed and gratified by the response to my invitations to contribute, and these have yielded both great insights and also some amusing tales. Further, this album is about the people and partner organisations with whom WLT has worked, and accordingly the photos here reflect their experiences with WLT. The photos are light on the plants and animals themselves for which WLT has secured a future, but there is ample evidence within of WLT’s conservation impacts. As this is an album addressed to both of you, though I hope of wider interest (and there will be a further copy at Halesworth), the aim is to bring back memories. Hence, the photos are not labelled with location, and only occasionally the year, in the hope that they may prompt reactions such as ‘that must have been in 1987 or was it 1989?’ and so on. I may have erred in trying to credit each photo with its photographer. But in many cases the person credited is in the photo, so I imagine many were taken by a convenient passer-by or other person present. Where I have had little clue as to the photographer, I have usually credited the relevant organisation, and I apologise if I have deprived anyone of due credit. Finally, I would like to thank all those who have contributed, allowing me to select from their photos and edit in any way I thought fit. The responses were enormous, and compiling all has taken a long time, but I have enjoyed doing so enormously, and have learnt even more about WLT in the process. The album has three sections called Early Days; Partners; Board, Council and More. I thank the Sussex Conservation Consortium for repairing a critically important original document. Finally, I thank most sincerely the designer, Jooles of JoolesBeeDesign. The contributors, comprising Partners, current and past Trustees and Council members all hope you enjoy this album, and that it gives great pleasure over many years to come. Mark Stanley Price
World Trust Patron, Sir David Attenborough OM, CH, CBE, FRS
I have actually known John since 1965 when we started our working lives in the Natural History Museum.
Richard Porter, Council member
We have done a number of trips together and the best or funniest was to Tunisia in 1973 when we went off for a week to photograph creatures in the Sahara for Time-Life Books by whom we were both gainfully employed (at least partially)! The following is adapted from the chapter ‘A Christmas camel’ in Dan’s book, ‘Mangroves and man-eaters and other wildlife encounters’.
John grew up at Beddinton Sewage Farm in South London. Well not literally, but that was where he cut his birdwatching teeth. In the 50’s and 60’s sewage farms were the place to go if you lived in an inland locality and were interested in birds - and Beddington was no exception. It attracted aspiring birdwatchers from the local schools and many of this peer group now hold influential positions in wildlife academia and conservation, John included. (Beddington Sewage Farm should have a website for its top achievers.....) My first meeting with John was at Selsey Bill in Sussex in November 1960. John briefly brushed shoulders with ‘twitching’ at a time the word was barely invented and came down to Selsey to see a Desert Wheatear – a very rare bird in Britain. Unfortunately he arrived a day after it had gone. Instantly realising this was a mug’s game he gave up chasing rare birds and settled into the respected wildlife conservationist that we know and love......
We photographed desert scenery, wild palms growing in rocky nooks and crannies and little insects – mostly ants and beetles – as they scuttled over the hot sand. There were special desert birds to photograph, like Moussier’s redstart (did we take its first ever picture in colour?), hoopoe larks, mourning wheatears and what we thought were pale crag martins. The unexpected amphibian was a large toad burrowing into damp sand by an irrigated palm grove. But of reptiles and mammals, important players in my Time-Life essay, we saw absolutely nothing, however many stones we turned, holes we investigated or footprints we followed. We were halfway there (crossing the Chot el Jerid to photograph flamingos) and battling slightly with the deep ruts appearing on the track when something large and furry caught my eye 20m away in the sand. ‘I’ve got to have it,’ I screamed above the noise of the engine. Swinging the car round through almost 360°, John brought the car to a halt by a pile of stinking, rotting flesh. Ali (a student who had volunteered to be their local guide) fell out of the back of the car, clamped a handkerchief over his face, ran off upwind and collapsed in the sand. John, more understanding of the whims – and whiffs – of wildlife ‘fanatics’ (being a bit of one himself), looked on benevolently and didn’t say a word. But I still felt the need to explain. My father, Frank Freeman, was a painter and, to satisfy his ‘anatomical’ phase, I was under orders to return from each of my trips abroad with a skull for him to incorporate into a painting. Surely the skull from the ‘ship of the desert’ would spur him into action! Hacking off the putrid head and wrapping it loosely in plastic, we resumed our journey to the flamingos on the shimmering desert lake. Through meeting Ali’s family they were invited to a beduin festival in a gorge. All was well until people started remonstrating with Ali. What was the reason? All knew but no one would admit it was the smell emanating from the boot of the car; they left in a hurry. Cramming our gear into the boot with the plastic-wrapped camel, we set out on the first 200km that would take us back to Gabes near the coast. We had given ourselves plenty of time to reach Tunis for the flight the following afternoon so, when we saw a signpost pointing to Gafsa Zoo, a north-westerly round-trip detour of about 300km, we didn’t hesitate. If there was just one new animal there for us to photograph, it would be worth it. We could always make up the lost time by driving through the night. The Director of the Zoo was delighted to receive foreign visitors. His eyes lit up, though, when he heard that John and I had both worked in London’s Natural History Museum, which he had himself visited many years previously. Sensing we were onto a winner, we asked if we might, perhaps in return for a £10 donation to the ‘Zoo’, be allowed to photograph some of his animals. ‘For £10, my friends, I will let them all out of their cages for you. I have the perfect place, a small oasis here in the desert with a fence.’ So out they came. Gazelles, fennec foxes, hedgehogs, vipers, sand boas, lizards and scorpions. In two frenzied hours of creatures being spilled out onto the sand, we used up our final half dozen rolls of film. With most of our subjects safely returned to their cages, there was just time for a refreshing cup of mint tea before we were back on the road to Gabes. Our spirits were high. We had turned our trip round on a final day of fortune. But nothing was easy: bridges had been washed away from atypical rainfall and river courses flooded: they launched unsuspecting into one and the car aquaplaned away in three feet of water. They managed to push the car on to dry land, and flattened the battery in trying to start the flooded electrics. Later in the night a local in a pickup arrived and towed them at 60 kilometers an hour until the engine started. By then penniless, they could not pay him anything so he left them, whereupon the car’s engine cut out again. Finall y, shortl y before midnight, in desperation Dan turned the ignition key and the engine roared into life. Later that day, in the wreck of a car we were both ashamed of and with our getaway tickets at the ready, we drove into Tunis airport. The camel skull was in a desperate state and although we didn’t have much time before our flight, something had to be done about it. Looking around the open tarmac while John dealt with the car, all I could find was a small puddle twinkling in the sunshine, so I sat down and began scraping, washing and picking. However impressed my father was with the camel’s skull, it never found its way into any of his paintings. The skull, minus one tooth, has finally returned to me and it now sits alongside the bottled spider that gave me my own James Bond experience in Australia in 1968.
Tunisia, D Freeman
Jerry Bertrand, WLT President When my Irish grandfather was asked how long he had been married he always answered, “Forever but it seems longer.” I don’t know how long you, John, and I have been working together but it seems like my entire professional life. It has to be at least 45 years since we met sometime while you were heading TRAFFIC. I remember thinking that anyone who could pair that title with “trade records analysis of fauna and flora in commerce” had to be a creative genius. After TRAFFIC you got me involved with your work at FFPS, now Fauna and Flora International and we went on to found FFPS-US which still exists doing good work in Washington DC. Where we really got to know each other however was through attendance at international conventions, I as a representative on the United States delegation and you as one of the most prominent spokesmen for the NGO community. We spent our off-hours birding and plotting how to get the most wildlife protection possible out of the negotiations. It is great fun for me to read my field notes from these trips. You may remember when you and I and Tim Inskip found our first Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl and Greater Kudu on the golf course at the convention venue in Botswana one evening in April 1983.
1983 G Bertrand
1989 G Bert
Birding and talking about conservation set a pattern for us that has always been productive. It seems our best ideas always came out of field trips, so it made natural sense that when you finished with FFPS I was able to bring the Belize project to you and ask for help by setting up a new organization in England to raise money to protect critically important lands. We had lunch in London with Gen. Sir John Chapple who encouraged us and said he would help where possible. You followed up with Gerry Durrell and with some seed funding from Massachusetts Audubon, WLT was born. You and your colleagues took the substantive lead on planning and science and built excellent community support for the fledgling Programme for Belize. On one visit we met both the Prime Minister, Said Musa, and Deputy Prime Minister to discuss our hopes for the project and were amazed that the PM’s office was in a small house open to the street and that anyone walking by could look in and see him at work. The informality greatly helped our ability to get things done. Needless to say this first WLT project was a phenomenal success with over a quarter million acres protected in perpetuity.
1981 Obdulio Menghi
Thanks largely to you, Viv, Roger, your trustees and thousands of supporters, Belize has forests for wonderful wildlife including jaguars and other top predators. WLT remains critical to Belizean conservation as evidenced by your recent successful land purchase there.
1991 G Bert
1989 G Be rand
You and Viv have created an organization which reflects your lifelong dedication and passion for protecting nature in the most direct way by saving habitat. In doing so you have saved over a million acres for wildlife and future generations while bringing present benefits to tens of thousands of local people. We are all very proud of what you have accomplished and humbled to be part of its growth. What a wonderful job you have done! I wish you the very best as you move into your next phase of conservation with, I hope, more time free to enjoy what you have created.
Obdulio Menghi (MSc.), President, Fundación Biodiversidad, Argentina A Path of Similar Trails
Sue Wells, former Council member
When in 1975 the CITES treaty came into force, the Secretariat was created and the headquarters were in the IUCN, in Gland, a small town near Geneva. At that time, the first TRAFFIC Office for IUCN, dealing with illegal wildlife trade, had opened. In my first visit to London I visited John in his capacity as Director of TRAFFIC. I was impressed by two things: his intelligence and the effort I had to make to follow his arguments and ideas in English: if my English is very poor today, can you imagine what it was like in 1976? I must say that even today I sometimes find it hard to understand what John is saying, but now I simply say: John, please repeat what you just said but in understandable English! The first Conference of the Parties to CITES was held in Bern, Switzerland in 1976, the second CoP was in Costa Rica, in 1979 and the third in New Delhi, India in 1981. John and I met in the CITES CoP in New Delhi, and then our paths began to separate. Since 1982 we saw each other sporadically. Luckily, we never became completely separated, since Vivian was for many years the chief rapporteur in CITES CoP’s as they took place all over the world. In those sleepless nights we spent translating and preparing documents for the next day, although we were so busy we talked little, we always exchanged some comments about John. So I knew how he was doing and later, I knew about the wonderful work of WLT. We did not see each other again for many years. In 1998, I left the CITES Secretariat in Geneva and returned to Argentina, where I created the Fundación Biodiversidad Argentina (FBA). Then one day I heard of World Land Trust´s projects in Paraguay and came across my friends John and Vivian. I wrote to John. And now I can proudly say that the FBA is a WLT Partner! Thank you John for having created this Institution formed by remarkable people who believe, like us, that all is not lost. Thank you Trustees, Board Members, Staff, friends, thank you Sir David Attenborough for having understood so well what John wanted to accomplish. His English was very clear this time. John Burton’s work is there for all to see and it is unique in the world!
osa 2011 El Pantan hi Obdulio Meng
John was largely responsible for kick-starting my career in conservation, which is probably the case for so many conservationists around the world today. In 1978, as head of TRAFFIC, he made the mistake of advertising for a secretary in New Scientist (presumably Viv wasn’t then making sure that things ran as efficiently as they do now). Rumour has it that he had applications from about 75 PhDs, and one from me, PhD-less and having done a typing course of sorts. John and Tim Inskipp (and occasionally Jon Barzdo) shared a battered manual type-writer in the Soho attic office above a Japanese restaurant. Cockcroaches would come up in the night and pop out of the type-writer at the first bash of the keys. Having determined that both John and Tim typed faster than me, and having sorted out the filing (nothing could ever be found until I worked out that all letters starting “Dear Sir” had been filed in the same folder), I was able to move on to more interesting things under John’s brilliant direction. We got the TRAFFIC Bulletin going – I rolled out the copies on the Xerox on a Friday evening, supplied with beer by the others in the pub opposite the office where we seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time. Issue no 2 in April 1979 proudly announces that TRAFFIC was going to install a TELEX machine - one of the many examples of John being ahead of the game. He had, and still has, endless interesting ideas of what is needed to get conservation done. That same issue of the Bulletin reports on the travels of the TRAFFIC cactus – a small plant provided by my mother – that travelled around the world with us to test the knowledge of customs officers on wildlife import and export licences. Tins of whale and seal meat, obtained by Jon Barzdo and Joanna Gordon-Clark, made similar journeys, and we had a memorable evening consuming them at a dinner where each course was an endangered species. John’s role in TRAFFIC, CITES and the wildlife trade is well known but insufficiently recognised by the vast network that is now involved in this aspect of conservation. I also learnt from John the vital importance of good communications and the need to write about what we were doing. John has been hugely influential through his vast written output and a lesson to all of us in how to make things interesting and gripping has always been a key aspect of WLT. John was instrumental in the development of the IUCN Red List, through his early work at FFPS on species and in promoting the Red Data Books, and played a large part in setting up what is now the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, including getting me a job there (in one of John’s typically inspired but slightly anarchic recruitment processes, he arranged a job-swap – I escaped life in London which was beginning to pall for the delights of Cambridge, and Frank Antram, who was in search of the bright lights, took my place in TRAFFIC).
Jerry and Le
Lee Durrell, former Council member My path crossed with those of John and Viv Burton in the mid 1980’s, when John was the spirited director of the then Fauna and Flora Preservation Society and Viv his right-hand gal. It was in the heady days of my ‘conversion’ to species conservation, as Gerald Durrell’s wife. I had been asked to sit on the Council of FFPS, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sir Peter Scott, Richard Fitter, Grenville Lucas and Lord Craigton. How starry-eyed I was! To me, John and Viv were dynamic visionaries, working in creative and energetic ways to save the planet’s endangered species, be they charismatic mega-vertebrates or ‘little brown jobs’. I was on the FFPS Council when, among other bold initiatives led by John and Viv, the iconic International Gorilla Conservation Project flourished and campaigns for protecting UK bats, reptiles and amphibians were under way. My next close encounter with the Burton’s was at the London Butterfly House at Syon Park in 1989 when they asked Gerry and me to launch Programme for Belize. We had visited Belize and, quite taken by its biodiversity and positive attitude to conservation, we were delighted to participate in the fanfare that day. One of the invitees was a great friend of John and Viv – Douglas Botting – who was to become Gerald Durrell’s biographer.
Elaine Shaughnessy, Council member Thank you Viv and John It is a very great pleasure to contribute to this recognition of Viv and John – both as people and for their incredible commitment and vision which has resulted in − and continues to achieve − conservation successes around the world. I first met Viv and John in London in the early 1980’s when John was CEO of the Fauna and Flora Preservation Society (now FFI) and I was working at the Natural History Museum. Our mutual friend Chris Humphries took me along to the screening of conservation film evenings that Viv and John held – where young conservationists could meet each other and other professionals working in the field. In the days of no computer and no email, it was a fantastic opportunity for us all to get to know each other. Thanks to Viv and John, lifelong friendships were formed and valuable networks created as we moved into our own conservation careers. Viv and John’s ability to bring people together and to create effective partnerships for conservation is shown by the breadth of programme and the strength of World Land Trust today. They also have been integral to the development of multiple conservation initiatives worldwide and have been wonderful mentors to generations of young conservationists.
l Kite’s Hill Trai to la e h 2004 R Rig
Renton Righelato, former Trustee
inter at K 2004 R ite’s Hill Righela to
Fairly soon after WLT was established, with Programme for Belize its first big project, John led a small trip to Belize which included a lady called Jane Pointer, then in her sixties, I think. She was passionate about horses and owned a small stud of Arab stallions in Gloucestershire though, feeling her age, she had not ridden for many years. She told me (many times!) how John got her on a horse again. It was something she never forgot. Some years later, she gifted part of her farm, Kites Hill, to WLT and gave her whole estate to the Trust in her will (a gift that turned out to be worth much more than any of us had imagined). Although I helped a bit with the launch of the Belize project, I had little involvement until the end of the 1990s, when John asked me to join the Trustees. It was a difficult time, with donations barely covering the overheads of the Trust and a real possibility of closure. But John had convinced us of the value of WLT’s land purchase model and to back a restructuring focussing on that. At first working without proper salaries and with almost no staff (but strong support from a growing Council), John and Viv attracted a much wider donor base, built a network of conservation partners and grew the Trust (about tenfold in income terms between 2003 and 2010), to what it is now.
Myles Archibald, former Trustee, current Hon. Treasurer John’s Rare Mammals of the World (published 1988) launch party was the first publishing event I attended for Collins Natural History. I can’t remember if he had a beard at the time, but he did have that bat belt. Held at the Natural History Museum, it was the first time that John and I crossed paths and the start of a great friendship with John and Viv. Their activities were part of the DNA of Collins Natural History – Wildfowl Trust, Natural History Book Service, FFPS – they had separately and then together been such vital forces in spreading the conservation word. And they lived in Suffolk, a place I love and visit often. Over the past 32 years the memories have all accumulated into a rather hazy amorphous mass of intellectual stimulation (John on goats being an example of his forthright views) and enormous fun. Thirty years ago the idea of a conservation organisation that funded local people in local groups to save local acres was pretty revolutionary. I think it will soon be the only way to fund conservation. It is to John and Viv’s eternal credit that they had the idea and put it in to practice. It is a reflection of them that it has been enormous fun and hugely successful. I look forward to them continuing to help and entertain over the next 30 years.
Nigel Simpson, former Council member and Trustee
Tribute to John and Viv N Simpson
My introduction to John and Viv, and the World Land Trust came in 1998, in unexpected circumstances - Kay and I had begun a cruise up the Amazon on a Victor Emanuel tour with Bob and Peg Ridgely, in the Lindblad Explorer, and Gerry Bertrand and his wife were also on board. This was a few months after Jocotoco Foundation (FJ) had started.
Gerry suggested I should contact John Burton, and the WLT. I was not aware of WLT, but I had known John (and Renton Righelato) in my schooldays, when we were birdwatching on Beddington Sewage Farm in south London, and Dungeness Bird Observatory. I made contact on return to UK, and so began a partnership of great value to the growth of FJ and the conservation of globally threatened species in Ecuador - which has now progressed and expanded for 20 years. There was one habitat reserve established then (1998), - Cerro Tapichalaca of about 800ha. This was the discovery site of a new bird species, the Jocotoco Antpitta. Today there are 12+ reserves on about 25000 hectares in Ecuador, with about 55 globally threatened bird species and hundreds of globally threatened species of plants, animals, reptiles and amphibians. The formation of Ecominga Foundation a few years later was a result of this relationship, - this specialises in the conservation of places of botanical importance in the Andes of Ecuador. The panoramic view (right), is of Cerro Tapichalaca, taken from the Continental Divide, a few km to the west, which became the Chris Parsons Reserve, in 2004, as described below. This is my choice for a special tribute to John and Viv.
Chris Parsons Reserve from the Tapichalaca Reserve N Simpson
A large 800ha property was identified adjacent to Tapichalaca, and this was purchased in 2004. John, Viv and I went there in February 2004 . En route, at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam, we had dinner with Marc Hoogeslag of the Dutch IUCN, - another very useful contact, and were also entertained by several mice running around the perimeter of the room. Nature on display. The Mendoza family was one of the three original owners of the reserve. The pictures (top right) were taken on the January 1998 expedition, when the concept of a habitat reserve began, - at a place about 100m from the discovery of the Jocotoco Antpitta (near right). Donkey trains came uphill from the lowest regions where the last of the mature Podocarpus trees were being felled and planked for sale. Supply of these ran out within the next eight years. Reforestation of large areas became a major project for FJ from 2004 onwards, thanks to massive support from World Land Trust.
Right - Four of the hundreds of special, endangered animals and plants which are present in Cerro Tapichalaca and the adjacent Chris Parsons reserve. From the left - Jocotoco Antpitta, Golden-plumed Parakeets, a Mountain Tapir, the recently discovered frog, Hyla tapichalaca, and Bomarea longipes, rediscovered by Lou Jost after It was first found by the French explorer, Edouard Andre 130 years previously (in exactly the same location). N Simpson
Bill Oddie OBE, Council member For many years I wasn’t sure which John Burton I knew. Did he work for the BBC? Was he a leading light at the FFPS? Was he the bloke who had chickened out of the Great Bird Race ostensibly because he felt he would be of more use organising and dealing logistics. He was probably right. I have always found his identification skills to be - I will say unproven. He is less interested in counting birds than in conserving them. Not just birds, the whole vulnerable planet. The World Land Trust is a small organization with a massive and widespread effect, and is undoubtedly John’s greatest achievement. A small organisation with massive and widespread effects that retains a beguiling charm both in its headquarters, an antique rabbit warren in a quirky Suffolk village, and its staff are good hearted, good company, and indeed good looking. Continuing the rabbit theme, the Bunny Mother is of course Viv. I suspect that she takes on many of the tasks that John doesn’t want to do. Or maybe can’t do. One of Johns favourite phrases is “I wouldn’t know about that”. But Viv probably does. She does particularly if the conversation has veered towards TV, movies and rock music. Viv worked for quite a time as a journalist, for New Musical Express, the rock equivalent of the Times Literary Supplement. She and my wife Laura have plundered Viv’s memory for tales of tours, tantrums and dressing room high jinx. Low jinks more like. She is not remotely discreet about naming actual names. It is especially entertaining when Laura and I know some of them. Well we used to. A Martin
Our first visit to stay the night at their home was a game of two halves. The first part was almost fantasy. A growyour-own garden peopled by assorted creatures whose identity I don’t precisely recall: hens and rabbits, possibly ducks, maybe a pony, and a couple of llamas, or were they alpacas? And a nice touch of wildlife, a barn owl staring down at us from the roof top. Supper, drink and reminiscences made for a lovely evening. It was only when we attempted to go to bed that things got decidedly precarious. The staircases were very narrow but not narrow enough to safely hem you in, as it were. One side wall was obliterated by shelves packed with probably every natural history book, magazine, leaflet and correspondence discarded or ignored. There were also myriads of memorabilia arranged in no apparent order. Skulls and other bones, ethnic carvings, voodoo dolls-that sort of thing. There were also several piles of back issues of NME! On the other side of the stair well there was nothing. Just a sheer uncushioned drop into the sitting room. Getting to the bedroom was a feat that would win 5 stars on “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of here”. Finding the loo in the middle of the night was another part of the challenge. Laura made it. I am not sure I did. There were plenty of antique vases around, so why not use one? I had been a birder since I was a kid. Birds birds birds. Then sometime in the late seventies or early eighties I realised that I knew very little about other of nature’s creatures and even less about their conservation. My first “tutor” was the late unforgettable and indefatigable Derek Moore. He made it his task to brief me about everything going on in the Wildlife Trusts and beyond. We would tazz around Suffolk with me asking questions about everything from agricultural policies to impending legacies. Motorised birding and learning. I learnt a lot but when Derek died I was left craving for another tutor.
Who better than John Burton? I think he may have contacted me so that I be commandered to the World Land Trust celebrity supporters club, the captain of which was of course Sir David Attenborough. I have happily represented the Trust at various events from the Chelsea Flower Show to music evenings. We are hoping Viv will use her old contacts from heavy metal days. These days, whenever I find myself requiring explanations, elucidations, things to beware of, and things to support I call John. “Whats this mean?”, “Who should I trust?”, “What can I do?”, “Can we save the world?”, “Why?”. We hold regular seminars over a crisp white wine at a small restaurant near Regent Street. Until John realizes he has to dash to Liverpool Street to get home in time to tuck in -not tuck intothe alpacas and report back to Viv, and catch up with the latest conservation news. Some of it is good! Thanks to John and Viv.
Marc Hoogeslag, IUCN Netherlands, Operational Partner
I came across the name World Land Trust when I was copied in a mail communication with Guyra Paraguay, which must have been in 2004. I reached out to Kirsty Burgess and learned about the work they did, which was (and still is) very much in line with that of our small grants for the purchase of nature program. My first visit to Halesworth was a year later. Their first impression of me must have quite bizarre, for I entered cursing and swearing after bumping my head on the ridiculously low doorframes. We got along really well from day one. I felt so much at home in their office, which still has this very cosy, warm atmosphere. It truly feels like home to me and I often think of WLT staff as closer colleagues than most of my colleagues in Amsterdam. Still, my annual trip to Halesworth is an energizer, where we talk about actual conservation, have a beer and a good laugh. In the beginning of my career, the support from John and Viv, and later Roger, was very important to me. We had long talks about our work, conservation in general and discussing ways to support our partners in the field. We share the same values, and agreed that the partner always comes first. They were critical sometimes, but also confirmed that what we were doing with our programme was really making a difference, which was very important for my confidence when I was younger. We had our arguments and were sometimes going against each other’s advice, but when things went wrong never said “I told you so”. There was and still is huge respect for each other. The partnership between IUCN NL and WLT has proven to be an excellent one, we really prove that one plus one sometimes make three. We do the scouting for new projects, take the risks and if NGOs prove themselves, WLT takes them on board for a long term partnership. For the success of our program at IUCN NL, John and Viv have been crucial. Not only in the actual support in the field and making strategical choices, but also for giving me the moral support in the early years of the programme.
Iran 2013 M Farhadini
Mike Parr, President, American Bird Conservancy, Operational Partner I first became aware of Program for Belize when I saw a beautifully designed mailer arrive at the house of a birding friend back in the late 1980s. It was clear that whomever was behind it really had their act together. It wasn’t until I found myself working for Birdlife International several years later that I met the force of nature who originally assembled the Belize project: John Burton. I recall that John and I went and sat on the grass in the back garden of the BirdLife HQ - a perfectly British way to hold a business meeting. John was bursting with ideas and enthusiasm that day. I later came to realize that John really only has one operational mode: turn the enthusiasm up to 11 and go. John has been a good friend to me over the years, an insightful advisor, a solid partner, and he is an inspirational leader. More than anything though, he’s made the world a better place. Something we and all future humans must be incredibly grateful for. Iran 2013 S Eckhardt
Thank you John!
Simon Barnes, Council member It began with a pint, as so many things do. It continued with common ground: the same primary school in Streatham, South London, shared memories of the nightmarish headmistress. But almost at once we connected by means of a freemasonry deeper even than the shared past: the shared and utterly unfakable love of the wild world. Another round – and how simple it sounded -- you don’t want them to destroy the rainforest, so you buy it. A year or so later I found myself in Belize, where it all began for the World Land Trust; here I met a jaguar and the not-quite-as-beautiful film star Darryl Hannah, neither of whom must be mentioned to JB. I got a still better idea of the way the World Land Trust works when I met Viv, and understood that the great adventure has always been a partnership based on complementary skills and temperaments. I learned more in Brazil, at Regua, taking sundowners with Nicholas, Raquel and a swallow-tailed hummingbird. I realised then that WLT operates on the basis of trust: and that trust is based on the same unfakable wild love. Since then I have visited many WLT projects, writing about them for newspapers. My aim was always to spread the word about the project concerned, about WLT, about wildlife conservation, about the glory and wonder of wildlife – and perhaps even more than that, the central importance of land, of wild land.
Time and again, I have been with JB in the mad, lovely wilderness: listening to the sounds of African scops owl, riding an elephant in the general direction of a tiger in India, paddling a canoe among Morelet’s crocodiles, cracking necks in search of invisible rainforest birds, sitting on a mountain top in Armenia looking down – looking down – on a flying lammergeier. JB was flagging on that mountain: the altitude, the hammering he had taken from chemotherapy, the steepness of the climb, the difficulty of finding the next breath. I was concerned; after all, I was supposed to be his minder, admittedly an impossible role. “Are you all right, JB?” “Of course I’m not bloody all right! And I wouldn’t miss this for the bloody world!” Yes indeed: alpine flower meadows, a million butterflies, tumbling rocks as bezoar goats leapt from one impossible ledge to another… later we sat round a table completely covered in random dishes, glasses and bottles, in the Armenian way. It is the custom here to propose toasts at intervals of, say, five and three-quarter minutes. To international conservation! To wildlife! To the habitats we are saving! To the World Land Trust! To everyone who works for the World Land Trust! It’s not about us, it’s about the organisation, it’s about the staff, it’s about the partners, it’s about the supporters, it’s about the wildlife. Yes yes yes, JB; sure, Viv; I hear you both and you’re both right on all counts. But I’d like to propose a toast, and you can be as embarrassed as you like. Armenia S Barnes
To Viv and JB! And yeah, well, thanks.
Rio Bravo Forest, Belize
Partners Meeting, Thetford, 2018, WLT
El Pantanoso 2011 O Meng
Obdulio Menghi, Presidente, FundaciĂłn Biodiversidad (FBA), Argentina I started the FBA on 2000 after returning to Argentina after many years working abroad, with young local biologists and conservationists. In 2012, WLT contacted FBA for advice on developing a management plan, which led to our becoming an official WLT programme partner. Our first collaborative project involved writing a conservation plan for the Emerald Green Corridor, Misiones, and FBA is continuing to support conservation activities in Misiones. In 2014, we advised WLT that a property in the Yungas forest of northern Argentina had come on the market. The property, El Pantanoso, is strategically important because it forms a corridor between Calilegua National Park to its south and Estancia Urundel, a large tract of contiguous forest to its north. Since then WLT has been raising funds to purchase and protect El Pantanoso in partnership with FBA.
2011 O Meng
El Pantanoso forms part of the largest area of contiguous habitat for Jaguar (Panthera onca) in Argentina. It is also an important ecological corridor for Puma (Puma concolor), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and other threatened species including Lowland Tapir (Tapirus terrestris), Black Solitary Eagle (Buteogallus solitarius) and two species of peccary. Biodiversity studies in El Pantanoso have identified more than 120 species of tree, 140 species of butterfly, 350 species of bird and 120 species of mammal. We are so grateful to WLT for securing the future of a large area of Yungas forest, which is under such pressure of being unsustainably logged. Without WLTâ€™s help, and the enthusiastic support and wisdom of John and his team, this area and its biodiversity would undoubtedly be in jeopardy.
2017 O Menghi
2016 O Menghi
Cacique, JA Burton
2011 Yungas, JA Burto
Cacique, JA Burton 2012 JA Burton
Luis Castelli, Fundación Naturaleza para el Futuro (FuNaFu), Argentina The first time we went to “Lot 8” in the Atlantic Forest (Misiones) in 2014 in the northeast of Argentina, we visited the villages of the Guarani’s. John and I walked among the remains of branches and puddles until we came to a small hut made of wood and leaves of palm trees. There, we were received by the cacique Augusto, his wife and a shy six children. The cacique looked for a smoking pipe to share with John and me (John did not seem very convinced about trying that mysterious grass, but finally he dared). What we will never forget was a time when the cacique took a guitar, which lacked a string (this did not seem to matter) and start playing. He strummed the old instrument and the whole family sang together for us a song that repeated as a loop a refrain that, in Guaraní, means joy and gratitude for life. In Lot 8 reside three ancestral Guarani communities: TekoáImá, KapiíVaté and ItaóMirí, who coexist in harmony with nature that is an essential part of their life, their culture, and their worldview. The Atlantic Forest represents one of the four centers of flowering plant diversity in the neotropics. Renowned also as a center for faunal diversity, for example for mammals, and particularly as a center of endemic species which only occur along this mostly narrow stripe following the coastline from northern Paraguay to northeast Brazil. The ecosystem also known as “Selva Misionera” is one of the most threatened areas in South America, so the purchase of Lot 8 has been a great first step for the conservation of this forest. The truth is that John and I had met working together with the purchase of the field “La Esperanza” of Patagonian Argentina, but this was the start of a relationship for FuNaFu with WLT which culminated in a ground-breaking alliance in Misiones. Ground-breaking because it ensured the survival of 3,765 hectares of critically endangered Atlantic rainforest (also known as Lot 8), while at the same time assuring the traditional way of life of the indigenous Guarani communities. A celebration dinner was held on the banks of the Parana River on 19th April 2013, at which WLT was given an environmental award. The Governor of Misiones Province was present throughout the event, and his remarks made clear the strategic importance the forest has for the society of Misiones. Three Guarani caciques were guests of honour, and John Burton, WLT’s Chief Executive, sent congratulations by video link. The Governor of Misiones acknowledged the role played by John and the World Land Trust team, with a message of appreciation: “Tell John we need to repeat what we have done, but on a larger scale, and that we are indebted to the World Land Trust.”
Jose Maria Musmeci, Vicepresidente, Fundación Patagonia Natural, Argentina The beginning of the 21st century presented great challenges in environmental conservation globally and for Patagonia. In those years, at the Fundacion Patagonia Natural (FPN), we started a work on a regional scale in Patagonia that was called “Integrated Management Plan for the Patagonian Coastal Zone”, working on management and sustainability issues over more than four thousand kilometres of coastline, and on various ocean conservation issues.
The Patagonian Sea (Southwestern Atlantic) was scarcely represented in terms of marine and coastal Protected Areas; and there was only one coastal National Park in the country: the Tierra del Fuego National Park. With less than 2% coverage of the Argentine Sea, of these declared areas, it was far from the recommendations of the international conventions to raise that percentage to at least 18%.
Under this need and with the slogan of creating new Protected Areas, we contacted the World Land Trust (WLT), particularly the internationally recognized naturalist enthusiast Mr. John Burton and his wife Viv Burton. After explaining the conservation needs of the Patagonian coastal steppe, encounters and visits took place together in different fields that combined the biodiversity that we were so interested in being represented in the new areas to be created.
We talked about contributing in a concrete way to the protection of a unique terrestrial fauna: guanacos (Lama guanicoe), maras (Dolichotis patagonicus), pumas (Puma concolor), gray Patagonian foxes (Pseudalopex griseus), wild cat (Oncifelis geoffroyi) and numerous birds continental, including rheas (Pterocnemia pennata); and emblematic marine species, such as southern right whales (Eubaleana australis), elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) and sea lions (Otaria flavescens) with Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus), black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) and southern giant petrels (Macronectes giganteus); all species with varying degrees of threat according to the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
From the first moment, John became an invaluable support to reach the goal of protecting an important fraction of the Patagonian coastal steppe.
First, we visited several livestock establishments with the desired characteristics (representativeness of flora and fauna and viability for their conservation) in several Patagonian provinces, covering almost a thousand kilometers of coastline. In the end, we selected the establishment “La Esperanza”, in the province of Chubut, on the south west coast of the San Matías Gulf and neighbour of Península Valdés; it was declared a Wildlife Refuge “La Esperanza” (RVSLE) according to Provincial Law N ° 3257. The field trips with John were always a great experience for me and the FPN team. We took this opportunity to learn from a passionate English naturalist the things that had been reflected in his books and publications.
Jerry Bertrand Estancia Esperanza or the Ranch of Hope in Argentina was a critical property with miles of ocean front on the northern Valdez Peninsula, itself an international biosphere reserve. This project was different than the previous two in that it was a restoration project where over the decades WLT and its local partner have restored and reintroduced wildlife populations where they had been shot or trapped out. By protecting the beach front WLT has provided the home for Southern Elephant Seals and other species that now can breed end raise their young in peace. Based on the success of these first three projects WLT under your leadership has grown to be a beacon of hope and success for people trying to protect the natural world. Strict land protection such as the elephant corridors has expanded to include rangers and game guards, environmental education, institutional training and support and community outreach. The core is still land protection but this is enhanced by other necessary supporting activities.
On the other side of the world, John began the search for funds to acquire the establishment and turn it into what it is today: a refuge for wildlife and a site for the training of young conservationists. These 18 years of interaction were very fruitful and we have always had the invaluable support of John and Viv, and the WLT team, who accompanied us with their resources and advice on an ongoing basis; but very especially with your patience and understanding of our realities. Our country is erratic in terms of many of its policies, but especially in those that address conservation issues and fulfilling its international commitments. This has led NGO’s to develop strategies that complement state policy deficits. John was able to read this situation and committed himself to finding funds for the purchase of a space, then non-existent, that was representative of this special system of the Patagonian coastal steppe. The funds appeared early and we were able to acquire the 6,700 hectares, with its 14 kilometers of coast, all of high landscape value and with beautiful panoramic views, with invaluable evidence of the original peoples (Tehuelches) who dated from 2000 years ago; but in an area badly conserved by overgrazing from traditional livestock activity. The personal relationship with John and Viv was growing and was generating personal affective ties with the coordination and field team of the FPN. There were several visits to Patagonia and Halesworth that allowed closing these ties even further. We shared young volunteers and “La Esperanza” was visited by WLT partners with whom we also had a very special affection relationship, as with Bernard and Oonagh Seegrave. Today “La Esperanza” is consolidated as a Wildlife Refuge recognized by the province of Chubut, which guarantees the conservation of this space and is part of the “buffer zone” of the Valdés Peninsula Natural Protected Area, declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in the year 1999; and the Valdés Biosphere Reserve of the MAB-UNESCO Program, created in 2014. The contribution of “La Esperanza” is highly significant, since it greatly exceeds the “intangible areas” of the Valdés Peninsula Reserve. These direct and indirect achievements of the actions of WLT and FPN, in addition to the illustrious visits received over the years, have given visibility to a place that, by itself, would not have had it. A very special memory that I keep in my memory were the meetings in London, Halesworth and other locations in the UK presenting the project and getting to know those who support in England the mission of WLT, John and Viv. In closing, I would like to highlight my recognition of John as a great conservationist and weaver of networks; making possible that today the network associated with WLT clearly represents the work of local organizations interacting to conserve spaces and species throughout the world. At FPN we feel a special pride in being part of that Network, and very especially friends of John and Viv. Personally I appreciate everything that I have received from both, its warmth, its clarity, and especially its affection that has been broad and constant. For a Latin American, that is a “great friendship”.
Ruben Khachatryan, Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assests (FPWC), Armenia
Ruben Khachatryan, Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assests (FPWC), Armenia
Marc Hoogeslag, Operational Partner
Dear John, dear Viv, WLT was created as a pioneer organization advocating for biodiversity protection in all parts of the world and within a short period of time WLT’s name was heard in every corner of our world.
In Armenia, we once had a lunch with loads of vodka. While the meal progressed and we had endured six speeches and an equal amount of vodka shots, John noticed that I still looked very sober. “How do you do that?” he asked. I explained him that I always threw away a bit of the vodka and filled up my glass with water when people weren’t watching. ‘Great idea!’ John said…..and filled his glass with what later turned out to be sparkling water! The whole table found out when John chinked his glass with the mayor and the contents of his glass started bubbling. Cheating like this is not done in Armenia and the mayor, who pretended to be upset, made sure that John had his proper share of the vodka that followed.
In Armenia WLT is perceived as a charity that within 7 years has helped to conserve more than 30,000 ha of important lands, rich in plants and rare animals, and has motivated community people to care and protect the assets they possess. This was an incredible step forward for a post-Soviet country like Armenia, and has since then accelerated a big CHANGE in the mind sets of people living in the country and nearby to these important territories of life. WLT has helped to fight poaching, hunting, logging, corruption, rusty mind set and helped to avoid disputes and arguments on all levels, be that state official or a community member. WLT helped bring together people of all ages and from different backgrounds to one common goal - the Earth is where all of us belong, and on this Earth every living being should be safe and protected, loved and cherished for the sake of future generations.
We love you deeply John &Viv and you will always have a special place in our hearts, thoughts and minds.
Edilberto Romero, Managing Director, Programme for Belize, Belize It all started 30 years ago with the challenge of saving 110,000 acres of tropical moist forest in north-western Belize. John and Viv Burton courageously agreed to fundraise in Europe to purchase this amazing forest that would have otherwise been cleared for agriculture. Their efforts made it possible to save this piece of the jewel and have it declared as the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area owned and managed by Programme for Belize. Thanks to their vision and efforts, the reserve has now been expanded to 252,000 acres comprised of 21 ecosystems, habitat to 745 species of woody plants, 70 species of mammals, 350 species of birds. Its large extension enables the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area to have fully functional populations of otherwise endangered species such as the large cats: the Puma, Jaguarundi, Ocelot, Margay and the Jaguar. Their efforts, under the World Land Trust, contributed significantly to Programme for Belizeâ€™s ability to manage the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area based on the man-and-biosphere reserve principle where 60% of the reserve is managed as a strict preserve and the remaining area is used to demonstrate that sustainable development is possible. Through their support, Programme for Belize was able to obtain funding from the European Union in order to experiment and develop sustainable forest management for timber production which has now become a certified sustainable forest management model for Belize and the Central American Region. The reserve also became one of the first forestry-based climate action projects in the world, demonstrating that forest conservation can contribute to the solution to climate change.
2004 G Bertrand
John and Viv have seen only the tracks of jaguars in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area but that is because they have been busy out there fundraising to ensure we can protect and manage the reserve for the benefit of this and many other species. With their retirement, I hope they will be able to visit and spend more time in the reserve with our Jaguars and the other wild cats. The Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area is the largest private reserve and a successful one at protecting biodiversity thanks to the courage, vision and tireless efforts of John and Viv Burton. Thank you John; thank you Viv, and happy retirement! Your legacy in Belize will live forever!
Partners Symposium 2005 PfB
Nigel Hennessy, Armonia, Bolivia John and Viv’s incredible contribution to global conservation can easily be quantified in the number of hectares they have protected, but there are many behind the scene elements that are not easily apparent. I will be ever thankful, and wish the conservation world would learn by their example, how they made sure that visiting partners had the opportunity to meet as many potentially helpful people as possible. I remember being overly engrossed in a (too long) birding conversation with Billie Oddie which could have gone on for days, when John justifiably took him away to share with everyone the opportunity. They were always overseeing the crowds, managing that people had enough time to meet the right people, and then moving them on to take advantage of these unique opportunities. I can say I met David Attenborough because he was brought to me to briefly shake his hand, whereas anywhere else, I am sure I would only be able to say I saw him once. I will dearly miss John and Viv’s profound thinking on how to get as much for wildlife conservation as possible, and hope that others will continue their thoughtfulness. N Asquith
Nigel Asquith, Natura Bolivia John came to us in late afternoon on October 12th, 2017, crossing the border from Argentina. This, we learned, was typical John, bringing together partners to achieve a common goal (albeit in this case the relatively simple goal of getting John and Charlotte from Salta to Charagua!). We then headed north to Macharetí, deep in the Bolivian Chaco. John’s passion for the Chaco and its forests was clear to all of us. The only question from our Guarani hosts was why didn’t John come to the Bolivian Chaco—with its intact forests and untouched indigenous villages—earlier? Still, our hosts concluded, better late than never. Natura had started our tentative collaboration with WLT earlier in the year, but John’s visit lit the fuse. The 650,000-acre Heroes del Chaco Historical and Wildlife Municipal Reserve was soon created, and the process to create the similar sized Guayukaka conservation area was initiated. John and WLT had arrived, and the forests of the Bolivian Chaco and Natura would never be the same again…. I have attached two photos: they both express our main memories about John: building partnerships and leading the next generation.
These were both taken on John’s first visit with us to the Bolivian Chaco in October 2017. The first is crossing the border, this shows John and Charlotte (Beckham of WLT) with Henry Bloomfield from Natura Bolivia, and the counterpart from Fundacion Biodiversidad (Argentina), and the second is crossing the Parapeti river with Charlotte, in the indigenous Guarani nation of Charagua in the heart of the Bolivia Chaco.
Nicholas Locke Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (REGUA), Brazil What makes an inspirational couple? John and Viv Burton rebounded into our lives in 2005. I met them at Rio airport and all the way to the REGUA reserve on that hot summer night we discussed conservation, biodiversity and the future. I didn’t know their personal accomplishments but their tender and respectful concern for the natural world was evident, leaving a deeply inspirational aura. By the time we reached the reserve, it was evident that these were passionate people with convictions and I wanted to be like them. Sometime later, Raquel and I were invited to the first Partners meeting in the Netherlands and we were able to meet the WLT family, representatives from conservation organizations around the globe likewise looking after their reserves and communities for the future. There were other like-minded people and we found ourselves an extended family. John and Viv brought Roger who in turn gave us the opportunity to restore the Atlantic Rainforest and taught us that we were capable of changing things if we had clear objectives, perseverance and commitment. It’s not easy to convey that Saxon determination in conservation on this continent, but John and Viv also exuded kindness and patience and have always supported our activities. Beneath that mantle permeated a deep rooted concern for the future of the planet and its biodiversity, and searching into their past later, one soon realizes that it has always been their guiding force. Time has always been essential for John and Viv, who said, “don’t hold onto funds, spend them today on your project, your biodiversity needs it”. This short axiom has infected our lives and we feel we have a narrow window open, an urgency to repair the damage, learn from it and continue to admire Nature, setting a hopeful course for the future.
It just makes sense, but that’s John and Viv, they have always made sense.
Nicholas and Raquel Locke
Miranda Stevenson, Trustee and former Council member When I was the CEO of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquarium we came up with a mutually beneficial scheme with John and Viv which allowed zoos and aquariums to contribute directly and be involved in WLT projects – this was a win-win scenario. The zoos were able to put their conservation contribution into a project which was measurable; further, they could directly participate by visiting the project, provide resources and be involved. The WLT benefited from publicity and public engagement and from funds for the projects. The first project was REGUA in Brazil, where zoos helped purchase land now know as the BIAZA Reserve. This has grown over the years and expanded into support for a variety of projects. John and other staff of WLT come to BIAZA meetings to promote the work and give feedback on results, and trips were organised to projects. The link continues and is of benefit to all and helps promote the work of the WLT to large audiences. This is just one example of the innovativeness of John and Viv in forming partnerships of mutual benefit to all.
Alan Martin, former Trustee Yes, I sent that picture from REGUA and the only other ones I can find are attached, also from REGUA in April 2010. That trip was with Bill Oddie who recorded a short video promoting the project and the WLT prior to the Chelsea Flower Show that year (the video is still available on Youtube if you just search for Bill Oddie REGUA). I have a picture of Bill Oddie with an orphaned Orange-spined Hairy Dwarf Porcupine but unfortunately no pictures of John with it. It was a long time ago and I’m racking my brain to remember something useful. Over the years the WLT has been the most consistent and loyal contributor to land purchase at REGUA and along with its partners such as BIAZA, IUCN Netherlands and the Body Shop have enabled REGUA to acquire and protect over 4,000 acres and another ma jor purchase is planned for this year, plus of course tree planting and funding a ranger.
One of the WLT’s strengths has always been that it has kept bureaucracy to a minimum, which is critical to small organisations that don’t have the staff capable of complex funding applications and reporting - and I think John has been key to keeping things simple and believing in letting the projects get on with their work without interference. John’s contribution to conservation has been immense and I firmly believe that the model that he established for the WLT of selecting and then providing financial support to its partners is brilliant. Too many other organisations want to get involved in the running of projects or they impose their own standards and procedures which may not be appropriate. John has been loyal to REGUA, and he has trusted us to deliver what we promise. One of the most important and difficult purchases was the Carlos Lemgruber land in July 2009 of 1,273 acres. WLT worked with BIAZA to raise the money. The problem was that Carlos kept changing his mind whether he wanted to sell or not, and eventually I had to meet with him and explain that he had to sell as we couldn’t find a way to return the money to all the individuals who had contributed through the collection boxes at the zoos! It worked and the sale of a critical piece of land went ahead.
Finally I have attached 2 photos of land that has been planted 2 years apart - WLT purchased the land and WLT funded the planting. It just shows what can be achieved. Imagine what John’s contribution will be worth in 100 years time!
Juan Manuel Martinez
Fernando Arbelรกez, Presidente, Fundaciรณn Biodiversa, Colombia I briefly met John at a dinner organised by Marc Hoogeslag in January 2017. The next day, me and ornithologist Oscar Laverde were picking up John and Richard (Cuthbert of WLT) at 4 am at their hotel in the centre of Bogotรก to start an adventure to El Silencio Natural Reserve, in the Middle Magdalena Valley of Colombia. During about 14 hours of car, boat and mule, we started to get to know each other and break the difficult barrier of shyness. Both John and Richard made that very easy. The amazing biodiversity of the Barbacoas lakes and their surrounding forest also contributed to their satisfaction about making the right choice to visit this place. On their arrival, they had already seen groups of howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys and thousands of birds. When we were on our way to the reserve by mule, John realised he had lost his wallet somewhere on the way from the boat. In panic, I ran to our field coordinator, Julio, knowing that he would be the only person who could find a wallet in the dusk of sunset lying on the grass. Fortunately he did and we all could breathe again, and enjoy the rest of the arrival through the tropical rainforest. Next day we spent having deeper and deeper conversations with John, while Oscar and Richard were birdwatching with Julio. I was amazed by his clarity and his immediate capacity to see the big picture of what we were doing and what needed to be done, while perfectly understanding and framing the context of the reserve and the project. We discussed for a long time about our WLT proposal and he was always open and receptive to my opinions, but he could point out the key aspects for improvement. He also had several fantastic insights on how to better manage our reserve, from simple elemental ideas to broader more complex suggestions. It was as if he had been there for a long time analysing and studying our project, although he only spent two nights with us. I cannot express how proud I am of having been in the field with John and being able to grasp a bit of his knowledge and deep understanding of conservation.
Lou Jost, Treasurer and Director, Fondacion EcoMinga, Ecuador
From Nigel Simpson’s article recent visit to Candelaria
I did not have the opportunity to meet John and Viv in Ecuador, but I did have the pleasure of visiting them several times in their native habitat, the UK. A highlight of my first visit was a trip to John’s treasure trove of fantastic natural history books, which seemed to occupy --at least in my awe-struck memory---almost an entire building. As he showed me his treasures, the way he spoke revealed a man intimately familiar with almost every aspect of natural history, deeply in love with nature, and passionate about protecting it. This awareness and appreciation of the fine details of earth’s unique habitats is one of the things that set John and Viv apart from many other conservation leaders; conservation is not an abstract ideal for them, but a gritty intimate on-the-ground activity guided by deep knowledge of what needed to be saved. It was exciting to share natural history stories with them, and both John and Viv instantly recognized and appreciated what was most special about our own Ecuadorian habitats, and the urgency of saving them.
One of the most exciting botanical discoveries in Ecuador has been the discovery by Lou Jost of a completely unexpected local evolutionary radiation of the orchid genus Teagueia in the Upper Pastaza Watershed. This genus was thought to have only six species worldwide. In a tiny 20 km x 20 km area of the Upper Pastaza Watershed, Lou and his students (Andy Shephard, Scott Grossman, Pailin Wedell, and Ali Araujo) discovered 28-30 new species in this genus! DNA analysis performed by Mark Whitten, Kurt Neubbig, and Lorena Endara of the University of Florida-Gainesville, Erik Rothacker of Ohio State University, and Alec Pridgeon of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew have revealed that all these species belong to a single lineage not very closely related to the other Teagueia species; in other words, there was a local explosion of speciation here in the Upper Pastaza Watershed, far exceeding the more famous local species radiations of the Galapagos islands. This discovery was recently highlighted in a Smithsonian exhibition in Washington D. C. from Jan-April 2009.
But there is another side to both John and Viv, perhaps even more important to their conservation successes. They are both natural communicators and media experts, able to convey their passion and knowledge to the general public and to media stars, and enlist them all in their campaigns. Our foundation was often the beneficiary of their media magic and creativity. Many times they arranged for people like Sir David Attenborough to share the stage with (star-struck) WLT partners such as ourselves, drawing the movers and shakers of London to our causes.
On one memorable occasion John and Viv boldly staged a glamorous WLT 25th Anniversary event with Sir David and some WLT partners in the BAFTA theater, also known as the Princess Anne Theater. I had never been to such an event before, much less spoken at one. This was said to be one of the world’s most advanced theaters, set in an elegant building, quite a jump from the utilitarian university auditoriums that were the usual locations for my talks about Ecuadorian biology. Needless to say we were all nervous. Sir David gave a wonderful talk to open the sold-out event, generously using his star power to attract and captivate an impressive audience for the WLT partners to proselytize. John and Viv always think big!
I especially remember another event, in an even more elegant club in Mayfair, which John and Viv and Emma Beckett and Jonny Lu organized especially to highlight EcoMinga’s many newly discovered orchid species. This intimate place had a downstairs private screening theater where people could watch a film that John and Viv had commissioned about our work. John and Viv had convinced Sir David to appear in person to introduce my orchid talk. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would have the chance to do something like this. But this is typical of the kinds of things that John and Viv arranged for their WLT partners.
In addition to these events where I was able to spend time with John and Viv in person, their special skills also led to major breakthroughs for us in Ecuador via emails. Several of our largest and most ambitious conservation proposals attracted John and Viv’s support when it was most needed; they nearly always magically found the perfect donor at just the right moment to make the project a reality. I recall especially one expedition I made to our then-new Cerro Candelaria Reserve; on the way out of the reserve, we found that the neighboring property, which we had hoped to buy eventually, was being surveyed at that moment for logging!
Within a week John and Viv had found funding to save that piece of forest. We went on to build this reserve into a very large biological corridor between two national parks, all funded by WLT. The largest addition to this corridor was funded thanks to John and Viv’s decision to feature us as the beneficiary of the WLT 2015 “Big Match” program. As usual they combined star power, personal connections, and bold thinking to raise extraordinary amounts of money for this “Forests in the Sky” project. The land we were able to protect continues to yield exciting new species of plants and animals, one of which we will name after the Burtons, in appreciation of everything they have done for us and for the world.
Juan Pablo Reyes
Juan Pablo Reyes
Martin Schaefer, CEO Fundación Jocotoco The strong and enthusiastic support of Viv and John Burton allowed Fundación Jocotoco to flourish. By founding World Land Trust, John has created a strong organization that funds and advises dozens of local conservation organizations such as Fundación Jocotoco. We are very grateful for his tireless work!
At Fundación Jocotoco John’s and Viv’s impact is best understood and visualized in two of our most iconic projects. One is our first reserve, Tapichalaca, home to the endangered and localized Jocotoco Antpitta, whose discovery led to the establishment of our conservation organization. Here, John not only helped us to conserve the highly threatened cloud forests through donations that we received from World Land Trust. More crucially, he leveraged funding from other sources leading to the large acquisitions of the Christopher Parson forest tract and the involvement of Sir David Attenborough. John’s participation was crucial to attract the attention and support of various donors. He thereby helped us strongly to raise our profile. The second iconic project that is intimately linked to John is our reforestation programme. Up to date, Fundación Jocotoco has planted more than 1,600,000 trees of approx. 140 native species. By using such a large variety of native species our efforts go way beyond reforestation by restoring diverse ecosystems. With less than 5% forest cover, western Ecuador is one of the most threatened biodiversity hotspots worldwide. As such, this programme yields multifarious benefits, from the protection of globally threatened biodiversity, to carbon sequestration, the protection of water sources and reduction in erosion. Today, the success of our reforestation programme is an example for governmental reforestation efforts throughout Ecuador. With their foresight and long-term vision, John and Viv were the strongest supporters of our restoration efforts through World Land Trust. We truly appreciate their support, as do the local communities that benefit from increased access to clean water.
Eric Horstman, Pro-Bosque, Ecuador The World Land Trustâ€™s initial support was for tree planting. We were dealing with a situation of heavy forest fragmentation in critically endangered Ecuadorian Dry Tropical Forest. We carried out enrichment planting, successfully using more than 35 native tree species produced in our nursery and out planted at the start of the rainy season. Monitoring after planting was key. To date, we have planted more than 647,000 trees in 647 hectares of land with an overall survival rate of over 65-70%. Where former cattle pastures of exotic kikuyu grass dominated, we now have a young and vibrant forest with seed dispersal of climax tree species from surrounding forest remnants. We also have carried out land purchases with the support of WLT for biologically important lands. We never had the pleasure of a visit from John and Viv while the reforestation project was going on, but initially we had visits from Roger, which were essential to the overall success of the program. Our Partnership with WLT meant that we were given space at the international level to present our work, to obtain support. Right now this would be difficult to find in Ecuador.
Juan de Dios Morales Wild GYE Initiative
Juan de Dios Morales Wild GYE Initiative Juan de Dios Morales Wild GYE Initiative
Renzo Paladines, Executive Director of Latin America, Naturaleza y Cultura Ecuador In a complex scenario, where deforestation threatened critical remnants of dry and foothill forests in southern Ecuador, Naturaleza y Cultura Ecuador (NCE) had the pleasure of meeting John and Viv Burton and their incredible World Land Trust (WLT) team.
John, Viv and the WLT team help NCE protect an array of biodiversity and sites, including more than 650 species of birds, more than one hundred species of amphibians and reptiles, jaguars, tapirs and spectacled bears. In collaboration with WLT, NCE was able to expand the largest private Ecuadorian Reserve (La Ceiba, located in the dry forest), and developed a conservation-restoration process in the biological corridor between the Podocarpus National Park and the Cordillera del Cóndor (Amazonian foothill forest). Additionally, WLT supported training efforts for our forest rangers and education efforts for local farmers. Thanks to WLT, local farmers, neighbors of the private reserves managed by NCE, learned to plant trees and about the importance of conservation. Now, they are helping NCE conserve some of the most diverse places in Ecuador and are witnesses of the value of forest restoration. We recognize and share the vision of John and Viv, and their work has truly inspired us. John and Viv are not only partners in conservation, but good friends, and we hope to always have them. The photo shows one of WLT’s first visits to Ecuador. John and Viv sent their colleagues Roger Wilson and Charlotte Beckham, who along with Trotsky Riera, Renzo Paladines, Felipe Serrano, Segundo Velez, Alex More and Paul Viñas (NCP) visited the sites that NCE considered critical for conservation. During last years with WLT´s support, we established what is now the Nangaritza Reserve (2,000 ha) and initiated a conservation process with rural and indigenous communities to protect an additional 75,000 ha of these fantastic forests.
Marco Cerezo, Director General, Fundacion para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservacion (FUNDAECO), Guatemala John and Viv discovering Caribbean Guatemala, “The Conservation Coast” Over more than a decade, John and Viv have helped us so much and in so many Nature Conservation endeavours, that it is really difficult to narrow it down to a few sentences… I do remember very fondly the time when John came to Guatemala, and actually helped me fundraise with local corporations…and how we enjoyed drinking Guatemalan Rum and sharing with local musicians between fundraising appointments!
However, if I had to share a great field trip story, I would have to mention the time John, Viv, and Rohini came to Guatemala in order to visit a couple of the many Nature Reserves they have helped create in our country. During that visit, we cruised the beautiful Río Dulce Canyon, where Viv and Rohini took the helm of “The Egret”, our old research ship, and Viv remembered fondly how she had actually been a crew member of the original Rainbow Warrior! And of course, during our visit to the recently created “Tapon Creek Reserve”, John had to endure a very long Maya Ceremony (John, as we all know, is not fond of any type of Ceremony!), that our fellow indigenous staff and community members organized to thank him and WLT for actually making that new Reserve possible! After being engulfed in sacred smoke for almost an hour, John finally had the chance to “cut the ribbon” (there was actually a ribbon set for him to cut!) for the new Reserve! And of course, I must mention the support that Viv has given to our scholarships Program for young girls and to our “Women Clinics” in Caribbean Guatemala, which has allowed us to secure health and education services for very poor indigenous women across the region. Their Love for Nature and for local conservationists will always inspire us! Thank you John! Thank you Viv! Thank you Rohini! Thank you WLT! Sincerely, Marco and the FUNDAECO Family!
Victor Saravia, Asociación Ecológica de San Marcos de Ocotepeque (AESMO) Honduras I send you our small contribution to this homage so deserved for such an extraordinary man and woman: The purchase of hundreds of hectares of land, over a decade, for the conservation of biodiversity and water sources in the biological corridor between the Trifinio-La Fraternidad Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO) and the Reserve of Man and the Biosphere, Cacique Lempira (Lord of the Mountains), is one of the most novel processes of its kind in Honduras and in the Trifinio Region shared with El Salvador and Guatemala; a process led by AESMO, within the framework of alliances between municipal governments, community water management boards, and the decided and extraordinary support of the World Land Trust. This innovative purchasing process through the participation of different social actors has generated mechanisms for the conservation of natural resources, mainly water, for the present and future generations, providing a series of learnings and a wealth of knowledge which constitute a valuable contribution to respond to challenges of a similar nature at national and international level.
The increase in the quality and quantity of water for household and agricultural consumption, together with the growing evidence of the improvement of ecosystems through the establishment of corridors that ensure free circulation and the genetic flow of the species, are very important results achieved in a relatively short period of time, which sends a message of hope so that similar processes can be replicated in other protected areas of Honduras and internationally. In all this process, and despite the strong operational challenges that AESMO faces to develop its work, we have always had the support and extraordinary sensitivity of John and Viv Burton. I remember particularly the symposium developed in Mexico, in 2014, in which one night after a particularly intense day of work, John approached and expressed to me “Víctor, we know the great challenges you face in order for AESMO to do its job and for you it is not easy to get resources, but I want to tell you that we will continue to support you “... those words touched my heart, because they showed the greatness and sensitivity of a great human being and a friend who knows how to value processes as participatory as the one that is developing in our country. The years have passed, and when we see the growing number of hectares now preserved in perpetuity with the participation of local governments, communities and the contribution of such an extraordinary partner as World Land Trust, we see the confidence that John and Viv deposited in this Honduran partner, as well as that ability to see further, strategically, it has become a model that now seeks to replicate to other places in Honduras and El Salvador. Another little story...
I remember on another occasion having seen our dear friends John and Marc Hoogeslag laugh and hum together, with the candor of naughty children, the melody of a short video that was presented in a symposium; I liked that attitude in both, especially in John, who at that time was just beginning the recovery process after a severe breakdown in his health ... one could not imagine that he would have spirits to laugh and enjoy with his friends of the little things in life, always under the watchful and solicitous look of Viv. P.S. I send you a photo taken during the tour to the former convent Bucareli, Querétaro, Mexico.
Vivek Menon, Founder and CEO, and the entire team of the Wildlife Trust of India A Tribute to the Burtons John Burton represents a certain old world conservation ideal that resonates with me every passing day. That may well be because I am old world myself. But that cannot be all. Let me try to break up the ideals that John brings out that I find inspiring. Firstly, he is passionate. To do any job without passion is killing, to do conservation without passion is killing other life forms. Get John talking of matters close to his heart like the Paraguayan chaco, the futility of royalty or the dangers of conservation optimism and he charges forward like a mythical jaguar upon the topic and tears to shreds any pretences in a conversation by his passion. In the field, in India, he has shown his passion for elephants and tribal people by supporting projects in the Western Ghats and Garo Hills with equal fervour. Secondly, focus. John is focussed to an entirely different degree on what he believes in; in this case, invest in land and it will give back. I have worked thirty years with another man, Ashok Kumar who fervently believed in enforcement andWTI fighting wildlife crime. From both I can see how an intense focus can yield spectacular results.
Thirdly, a simple self-deprecating style of working. There is an essential simplicity at the core of John that determines how he gets his work done. Personally there is nothing arrogant or grandstyling about him. That also reflects in how he works. He detests bureaucracy and tries to simplify things to a great degree. Fourthly, his sense of humour can be devastating. Conservation can be pretty deadly serious business and the weight of bearing the world on your shoulders can tell the strain. John treats it with a light touch. Finally, his sense of loyalty. I suppose of all these traits, this is what is most old world and most lacking in todayâ€™s generation of conservationists. He chose his partners carefully and nurtured them over the years resulting in decades old conservation work in Latin America and now Asia. Talking of loyalty is a good time to dwell on the most loyal of John Burtonâ€™s supporters who would be without a doubt, Viv. Ever the understated, behind the scenes presence, Viv has been to the World Land Trust and to John personally, the anchoring rock on which the edifice has been constructed. She has led the communication wing of the trust with quiet efficiency but, when needed, dour persistence. As partners in India, we have thrived on the ability of Viv to deepen friendships wherever John made them and to focus on detail. In India an ancient deity is the Ardhanarishwara form of Shiva. Half male and half female, the God combines masculinity and femininity, power and grace, right and left sides of the brain; John and Viv seem to have developed over the years the ability to approach that fluid unity. As John and Viv retire, we at the Wildlife Trust of India dwell on the wonderful partnership we have had with the Trust and with the Burtons. We are grateful that we could practice the art of conservation together for the time we did. The team in India wish John and Viv a peaceful and happy retirement from a hectic working life and a continuing engagement in mentorship that every founder must have in them for the organisation that they have given life to.
David Bebber WTI
Jayant Sarnaik, Joint Director, Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF), India World Land Trustâ€™s support has enabled us address one of the important challenges of conservation in the northern Western Ghats- ensuring ecological integrity of the fragmented forest landscapes. The landscapes in the northern Western Ghats face imminent threats from land use change due to private ownership of vast chunks of forests. Absence of legal protection to these forests jeopardizes survival of healthy population of many endemic and globally threatened species. WLTâ€™s support plays critical role in conservation of threatened and endangered species through long term protection of community forests in the Western Ghats hotspot.
WLT visit to Iran, 2013
WLT visit to Iran, 2013
Mohammad Farhadinia, Iranian Cheetah Society The trip was organised in November 2013, in association with IUCN Netherlands and Stichting SPOTS (a Dutch NGO), to evaluate the potential collaboration with the Iranian Cheetah Society, as the first partner in the Middle East. The captive cheetah was confiscated from a herder, when she was a cub and was kept in Turan PA, where we all visited there; her name was Delbar (someone who takes heart). As a result of that trip, the ICS became an official partner with the IUCN NL and WLT, each supporting different projects.
Simone Eckhardt, Save and Protect our Treasures (SPOTS), Netherlands I met John only once but I really have the most warm feelings towards him. And I consider him to be a friend, although on distance. And that is unique: I have met lots of persons and with most of them, I don’t feel connected. With both Marc and John, I feel this differently. John and I met at the airport in Turkey, in 2013. I travelled with Marc Hoogeslag from IUCN NL from Amsterdam and we met John in Istanbul. From there we would fly to Iran. The first meeting was a bit ‘chilly’. John looked at me as if I was a very creepy type of insect. Which is maybe not so strange: I am a bit chaotic, very vivid (especially if somebody looks at me like I am a creepy insect), very blond and I do not really give the impression I am into nature conservation. I never asked him what he thought exactly but I think it was not really flattering. I am the founder of SPOTS, a Dutch NGO focusing on the wild cats. Iran is crucial for the Asiatic cheetah; it’s the only country where this subspecies lives. And it’s going extinct. I was in Iran before, alone. So for me it was more than pleasant to have two guys with me during my second trip: all the attention was focused on them and not on me. With this trip, I could just blend in the background and watch and listen. Marc and John sometimes forgot we were not in Europe. Very chivalrously, they opened doors for me so I could enter the room first. And I always said: after you gentlemen. Can still not believe this came out of my mouth. Nature conservation is a tough job, something I have learned and am still learning through the years. In many cases in order to do something for nature, you first have to practice politics. John has been working in this field for years so he knows how it works. I always called John ‘Mr Grumpy’. He has seen a lot I guess and knows how the world works. That made him sometimes cynical. But I knew he had and has a heart of gold for nature. And I guess the three of us found each other in that. Nature conservation is the best thing you can work for, because you really care. At the same time, it’s many times the saddest thing you can do. Because often it feels you are fighting lost battles. I think we all understood this feeling but we all as well have the drive to not give up. So, at least in my eyes, there was a lot of recognition. John was not a person pleaser: what you see is what you get. He, as I, just needs some time alone. So in many cases you could see John just stepping away from the group, to be with himself and of course with his binoculars. I also remembered his sense of humour; at least the kind of humor I like. So soon the three of us already had lots of laughs. Especially John and I also had lots of worries about China. We could rant about it for hours. But at the end of the day we were all singing ‘I like Chinese’ from Monty Python. I think, or like to think, the three of us were a golden combination. So even when we got stuck in a heavy traffic jam in Teheran, after already driving for hours, we could still enjoy it by joking about it. And we sang a lot. Probably very loud and false. The common routine would be that Marc and I would sing, John would say something really horrible and then we just laughed. And sang again, even John..... I recently visited Iran again. And they still recall this trip of the three crazy, singing Europeans.
Marc Hoogeslag, Operational Partner In 2013 I invited John along on a trip to Iran, which I made with Simone Eckhardt from the SPOTS Foundation in the Netherlands. We really enjoyed that trip, the scenery, the food, the people and the culture. One night we were roommates in a field station of the Department of Environment in Semnan Province. We discussed the state of the world, John cursing at the big International NGOs, including IUCN and the role China played in the destruction of the environment all over the world. The next morning we got up early, went outside and enjoyed the silence outside. I cannot remember how but a few minutes later John, Simone and myself were singing the Monty Python song “I like Chinese” (They only come up to your knees, Yet they’re always friendly and they’re ready to please). I understand that till this day, the guards at that field station still talk about the three silly westerners singing the Monty Python song.
Yasaman Hassan-beigi, International Communication Officer, Iranian Cheetah Society Congratulations from the team of Iranian Cheetah Society. We gained a deeper and more serious understanding of conservation with Johnâ€™s guidance and made it a reality with the support of the World Land Trust. We wish you a very happy and relaxing retirement.
Paul Matiku, Executive Director, NatureKenya Dear John and Viv, We, the Nature Kenya family are very grateful for your contribution to conservation work across the world. World Land Trust (WLT) and Nature Kenya came to know each other when the latter was invited to participate in a joint WLT-IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands symposium in 2006. The World Land Trust became interested in what Nature Kenya was doing to save critically endangered bird species and their habitats. Due to limited resources Nature Kenya was unable to fully address some threats facing endangered bird species found in sites that are under private ownership. These sites include the Kinangop Grasslands Plateau and Taita Hills Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), which host the critically endangered Sharpe’s Longclaw (Macronyx sharpei) and Taita Apalis (Apalis fuscigularis) respectively. Through John and Viv, WLT came in to save the situation. World Land Trust and Nature Kenya entered into a formal agreement for purchase of land in Kinangop for the conservation of the Sharpe’s Longclaw. Through support from WLT, Nature Kenya was able to secure a 90-acre grassland reserve in Kinangop. Since then there has been an increase of the bird’s population, with 32 pairs currently recorded against 20 recorded in 2006. Other grassland birds such as Long-tailed and Jackson widow birds have also found a home in the reserve. Your support has also kept the Critically Endangered Taita Apalis (Apalis fuscigularis) flying in Taita hills. With support from WLT, Nature Kenya has leased a 6.02 ha piece of land at Msindyuni Forest which is adjacent to the Vuria Community Forest. The lease is purposely meant to secure habitat for the Taita Apalis. The leased area is one of the best habitats for Taita Apalis. The World Land Trust Land lease opened the gateway for others to engage. Plans to purchase land in Taita using other donor funding are at an advanced stage. The WLT-Nature Kenya partnership has also seen other initiatives such as the ‘Kenyan Forest Conservation Project’. Through funds secured by WLT from the United Bank of Carbon (UBoC) for the Plant a Tree and Tree Planet projects, Nature Kenya has managed to restore 140 ha of degraded natural forest in South Nandi, 35 ha in Kereita (Kikuyu Escarpment) and 18 ha in Mount Kenya. The UBoC-funded project has also supported planting of trees in farms to reduce pressure on forests as well as improving livelihoods of the farmers through sale of trees/timber. It has also seen the establishment of woodlots in schools adjacent to natural forest. In South Nandi, 65,000 exotic trees (65 ha) have been planted on farms while 34,550 (34.5 ha) have been planted at 21 schools (6 secondary and 15 primary). In Kereita (Kikuyu Escarpment) 6,450 (6.4 ha) trees have been planted in 16 schools, while 1,000 trees have been planted in one school in Mt. Kenya. Additionally, 10.5 ha (10,500 indigenous trees) of degraded forest land have been rehabilitated through the WLT ‘Plant a Tree’ program and a further 425 indigenous trees planted through the ‘Tree Planet’ project’. Four farmers from Mt. Kenya also benefited through the project, planting 425 exotic trees on their farms.
Isabelle Lachman, Hutan, Malaysia John and Viv, you have been and always will be a great inspiration to me. You have created a unique breed of conservation organisation that firmly kept its passion, ingenuity and integrity over the decades. I am immensely proud and thankful that you invited Hutan to be part of your amazing network of projects worldwide. When you first said that WLT hoped to raise a million pounds to secure a vital wildlife corridor in the Kinabatangan, it sounded so crazy that, I confess, my first reaction was to think it was a joke. But you did it, and even went way past the initial target. This had a huge and long-lasting impact on our conservation efforts here in Sabah. All of us at Hutan and our local partners will forever be grateful to you and WLT. And I will never more be tempted to smile at WLT crazy idea. With all my apologies for having so often abused the precious time allocated to my presentations, I wish you all the very best for your future endeavours. Azri Sawang
Roberto Pedraza Ruiz
Roberto Pedraza Ruiz, Head of the Land Conservation programme at Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG) Over the years of the conservation project begun by my parents (thirty years ago), intertwined with my own life as I grew up almost with it, I have had the chance to attend and know so many visitors and personalities from very different backgrounds and experiences. And we have had so many different partners along the way, from the World Bank to the UNEP, so many different foundations and donors, the Mexican Government, etc..., that I can´t recall all of them. But I can remember the special and unique ones, the ones that from just a working relationship has grown to be a close friendship. One of those friends that don´t mind to be 9,000 kms away, but keeps growing despite the distance.
Roberto Pedraza Ruiz
And among them, in a very special place are Viv and John Burton, whom I first met in a symposium held in Holten, the Netherlands, invited by Marc Hoogeslag, as the SPN just approved a first purchase in Sierra Gorda, back in 2006. I had the chance to make a brief presentation, met the Burton’s and after that, a first WLT mission was sent to Sierra Gorda; the dear Roger Wilson and Kirsty Burgess endured the heat of the lowlands, long days in the field and even horseback riding to visit Las Arenitas reserve, where the first purchase was done thanks to the SPN. And has then been considerably expanded with WLT support. After that visit, the partnership was born. And the Burton’s visited the Sierra Gorda for the first time. We took them to Las Arenitas reserve, just expanded with the first grant approved by the WLT, and the “flattest” landscape around with its gentler hills, not the sharp peaks of the highlands. But anyway they endured the hike, among ancient oaks and cycads a thousand years old, and we spent the night in a nearby ecolodge run by the local community. I am a hardcore Wagnerian, and had the rare pleasure of meeting another in the knowledgeable John. So there, in a tiny community deep in the mountains while having a candlelight dinner and a nice beer we discussed about recordings, conductors, the best Der Ring des Nibelungen (Solti vs Karajan) recording and the poor Mozart, as I hate his music and John tried to convince me about his merits. He could not. And I remember Viv´s sweetness and her amusement at our musical discussions. Another highlight of the trip was to invite them to meet first hand real-wild axolotls. As you may know, the Burton’s are very fond of those small Mexicans, and even have some of them at home as strange pets. Meeting them here meant a steep hike to the deep ravine where they are found, through the bush and oak forest as there are no trails there. But we found them and perfectly recall what a happy face looks like. And another highlight was the shopping with all involved with the very Mexican Day of the Death festivities, that they almost hit. They took back to England enough materials and ornaments to celebrate the departed ones in Halesworth.
Roberto Pedraza Ruiz
Their second visit was during 2016, when we had the honour to host the Partner’s Symposium. This had a different flavour as it felt, as every Symposium does, more like a family meeting, where similar minds and individuals met to exchange strategies and good laughs, much needed when you feel and know the human wave is taking everything at an alarming pace and we are few in the other side. I think every human being has the chance to make a difference with the time and its life while on the planet. And it applies to every profession or trade, but few try to make it in a conscious manner. But Viv and John did it, and what a change for so many acres of unspoiled forest and wildlife they have achieved, in a quiet and humble way. And making effective conservation and not conversation as it unfortunately happens so often. The impact in my dear Sierra Gorda has been substantial. The ten reserves we protect and keep growing are real wildlife heavens, back to jaguars and ancient oaks where we humans have a sporadic presence. Just to protect all. So I really think that many conservationists and organizations should follow and develop a similar approach and model to the World Land Trust and its Partners, built by the Burton’s. The current state of the world would be much better. John and Viv chose to make a difference with their time, talents and lives, and we are grateful for that, their effort and friendship. And they achieved it in the best possible way. All the best,
Roberto Pedraza Ruiz
Guyra Paraguay Guyra Paraguay Guyra Paraguay Alberto Yanosky, former CEO Guyra Paraguay
Perhaps the most memorable moments for me are: After “chasing John to give me some time to talk” he told me to visit him in Halesworth and I took the wrong decision to rent a car to drive to that place and I arrived four hours late, and still our lives were to be supposed links, as he waited for me patiently and guided me in the rural areas of England. I am very happy we decided to have a beer downstairs at an earlier office of the WLT as the waiter, the person who served us beer, was a friend of John’s, and was later in love with our work in the Pantanal and after a while he decided to invest in us at the Pantanal. Lee Harper and his wife, Liz, were crucial to the kick off of the Pantanal dream and this has been thanks to John’s open and friendly way of doing things. Another important story was regarding the trip to the Dry Chaco with John, Viv and some Trustees. I guess it was the time it rained the most and the supposed Dry Chaco was a huge wetland, and every single place was completely flooded. Guyra Paraguay
K Cox Guyra Paraguay
Kevin Cox, former Trustee and Council member The sand road was hot and dusty and it snaked into the far distance in a straight yellow line. On either side the shrubs and trees were armed with long thorny spikes that would have impaled anyone foolish enough to attempt entry. We were in the heart of the Chaco in Paraguay. Thousands of square miles of slow-growing, low-growing, impenetrable, inhospitable terrain. Not easy to love but, for John, not easy to leave. It kept calling him back and each time it revealed a few more of its secrets. When I visited Paraguay with John and Viv in 2008, we travelled the long, hot road through the Chaco with John standing in the back of the pick-up scanning the road ahead. There was always a chance that a Chaco Peccary would cross in front of us. No luck on this trip. But we did see a Crab-eating Fox taking a nap by the side of the road; a party of black and yellow locusts; a tarantula; and clouds of yellow butterflies. Even then we passed bulldozers clearing the land for more cattle grazing. In the last ten years, the destruction has been immense and restoration, should it ever happen, will take centuries. Without John, Viv and World Land Trust, there might be nothing left. In partnership with Guyra Paraguay, John has been the champion of the Chaco. He saw beauty where others saw wasteland; he saw the value of protecting this fragile and threatened habitat where others saw simply short-term profit from destroying it. Around the world there are now places protected from greed and harm because of John and Viv and the three decades of work by World Land Trust. They have saved species from extinction, land from despoliation and people from exploitation. This is their legacy and we have much to thank them for. My fervent wish is that one day John will be rewarded by an encounter with the one big beast that has so far eluded him, the jaguar. Just close enough to prove that there is still hope, that fragments of the wild still exist and that John and Viv should take great credit for their part in protecting them.
Rohini Finch, current WLT Chair of the Board For my very first trip to Paraguay on June 2006 John and Viv took me and my daughter Joanne to Paraguay, as we were considering a donation to land purchase in the Pantanal. The image on the left is taken from the plane where neat lines had been cut into the rainforest in readiness for creating farmlands is what inspired me to become more active than â€˜a donorâ€™. Following that trip, John asked me to become a Council member. I was reluctant as I am not a conservationist. But John insisted that I had other skills that the organisation valued. I hope that I have repaid that faith in the last 12 years. For me, that first trip to this day has been one of the most rewarding journeys and relationships of my life. Thank you John and Viv for giving us the WLT. R Finch
Peter T Clark Guyra Paraguay
Guyra Paraguay K Cox
Alex More, Director of Peru, Naturaleza y Cultura, Peru CONTRIBUTION OF WLT TO THE CONSERVATION OF THE ANDEAN CORRIDOR IN NORTHERN PERU The Bi-national Tropical Andes Corridor between southern Ecuador and northern Peru is one of the most diverse ecosystem on Earth. In Peru this corridor includes cloud montane forest and paramo in the regional states of Piura and Cajamarca. These ecosystems are in the headwaters of the Quiroz River, Macara River (flowing to the Pacific Ocean), as well as Huancabamba River, Chinchipe river, Tabaconas River and Chamaya River (flowing to the Amazon). These rivers are the source of water for extensive valleys that raise crops key for export and the local economy. This area constitutes the southern boundary of the Tropical Andes ecoregion that biogeographically is limited by the Huancabamba depression, which is one of the lowest areas in all of the Andes. It is home to many different species of endemic and endangered birds such as the Red Faced Parrot, Masked Mountain-Tanager, Neblina Metaltail; rodents endemic to Peru (Kalinowskiâ€™s Oldfield Mouse, Inca Oldfield Mouse, Taczanowskiâ€™s Oldfield Mouse); and flag species such as the Andean Bear and Mountain Tapir. The forests and paramos of Piura and Cajamarca in Peru form an important part of this biological corridor and cover approximately 540,000 acres, which are threatened by logging, slash and burning practices and illegal mining. The human communities in this corridor occupy 65% of the cloud forests and paramos of Piura, implying the future of this biodiverse region requires a sustainable community protected area model to establish long-term land protection. With this perspective, Naturaleza y Cultura Peru (NCP) has begun working with various Andean communities in Piura and Cajamarca to establish a mosaic of community and sub-national reserves. Up to now, NCP has established 8 community reserves (over 152 000 acres), three of them in collaboration with WLT (over 119 000 acres) which includes the largest community reserves in Piura and Cajamarca regions: Chicuate Chinguelas (66955.4 acres) and Tabaconas (43362.3 acres). In the last WLT symposium John Burton kindly sent a gift for one of our community leaders in Chinguelas reserve. The binoculars he sent were delivered to one of the most enthusiastic leaders who enjoys watching nature and participating in patrolling. Hilario Rojas (now community president) used the Eagle Optics binoculars with the NCP team that participated in the last Global Big Day 2018. Such a good experience for him because it allowed him to know more about the endemic species that inhabit the forest of his community!!. Thanks to John and WLT.
Jerry Bertrand, WLT President PHILIPPINE REEF AND RAINFOREST CONSERVATION FOUNDATION INC. Door 7, Teresa Bldg., Mandalagan Highway, Bacolod City 6100 Philippines 0915 -2347145 ; 0908-5254108 ; 034-4416010 • firstname.lastname@example.org DANJUGAN ISLAND • Brgy. Bulata, Cauayan, Negros Occidental 6112 Philippines www.danjuganisland.ph • Facebook: Danjugan Island • Instagram: @danjuganisland
TRIBUTE TO JOHN AND VIV BURTON By: Gerry Ledesma, President, PRRCFI
But you didn’t stop with Belize. The attitude you adopted was that if WLT had a strong, motivated partner it could support conservation anywhere. Credentials weren’t as important as intelligence, passion for nature and commitment to conservation. WLT’s second project was in the Philippines based on your assessment of Jerry Ledesma as this sort of person. Danjuan Island in the Philippines is now one of that country’s most important marine sanctuaries and Jerry has gone on to become a national conservation hero.
Since 1974, we’ve always dreamed of owning Danjugan Island for its forests and birds, its surrounding reefs, and shoals of fish as it was in constant threat of deforestation, the hunting of its rare avifauna species, and unsustainable fishing—more so in 1993 when its owner was selling the tree where the pair of white-breasted sea eagles nested and still nests today. When he offered to sell us the tree, I asked him how about throwing in the entire island? And he said yes—problem was we had no money! Around that time, I was working with William Oliver on the Philippine Spotted Deer Conservation Programme and over some rum, his, and beer, mine, I talked about our problem and he linked me to John Burton. All then was a flash—Sue Wells, a noted marine scientist came, then Pete Raines of Coral Cay Conservation, then an invitation to fly to England for the launch of the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Project at Stratford on Avon’s Butterfly Farm. On my next visit, graciously hosted by Viv and John in their beautiful Halesworth home, we had some drinks on the first evening and I was warned of the low door jambs and this short Filipino thought nothing of it and after not a few drinks, I retired with a mild bump on my forehead and we all just laughed silly. To Viv and John, our deepest appreciation for saving Danjugan Island for us and we assure you both that your great efforts have not come to naught. The island is now secured and a model of nature tourism in the Philippines and it is catalyst to other important programs such as the Establishment of Marine Protected Areas, the Danjugan Environment Education Program (DEEP), Sea Waste Education to Eradicate Plastic (SWEEP) and Social Economic Enterprise Development (SEED) through building of several Wala Usik Stores (Zero Waste Stores) in our partner sites to help promote zero waste living as well as enterprise development in local communities. And soon, critically endangered species will be released to its forest starting with the Negros bleeding-heart pigeon (Galliculomba keayi).
This year 2019, we celebrate the 25th year of Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. To Viv and John, thank you for making our dream come true.
Mark Leaney, former Treasurer and Trustee I vaguely remember the first meeting I ever went to and it was the time when WLT was buying the island of Danjugan. I was the first Treasurer so had a different perspective of financial matters as to the rest of the Council. John explained that he had managed to get a loan from an Indonesian bank but at a very high interest rate, so that we could complete quickly before a hotel chain could buy it. I was concerned that a small charity with limited assets taking on a large loan was very risky. John’s reply was “It’s far easier to raise money for land that you already have bought than it is to raise money for land that you wish to buy.” It all turned out well and perhaps I learnt something.
Sue Wells, former Council member John’s recognition of the need for conservation for all parts of the planet was great encouragement when I moved into marine and coastal work (an interest triggered by the work we did at TRAFFIC on ornamental corals and shells). So it was not surprising to hear from him when I was based in the Philippines, asking me if I could pop down to Danjugan Island and meet Gerry Ledesma who had an idea about an island and coral reef project. The place was perfect for WLT support and, with Gerry’s energy, the Philippine Rainforest and Reef project was born. This is still thriving with a young team of staff running Danjugan as an education and eco-tourism enterprise, and I was able to visit it in 2014 to see the progress that had been made.
I also have very fond memories of Programme for Belize which was the standard bearer for good conservation work in Belize when I was there in the early 1990s working on coastal and marine projects – Rio Bravo provided a peaceful forest haven to escape to at weekends.
John and Viv have had an extraordinary impact on conservation over their lifetimes, and an enormous influence around the world. And quite simply for me, I would not have had my conservation career without them, and might well have ended up as a secretary!
Adult Yellow-shouldered Parrot
Bibiana Sucre, Executive Director, Asocación Civil Provita, Venezuela I will never forget how terrified I was the first time I visited WLT, back in 2010, when I had just about six months in Provita and my career in conservation. I spent a week with stomach ache before the trip. WLT gave me the amazing opportunity of receiving training in proposal writing, one of the conservation chores I now enjoy the most, and then spent a week in Halesworth, learning directly from John, Viv and WLT staff. During this trip I also had the scary and incredible opportunity of presenting our project with the Yellow-shouldered Parrot and Chacaracual Community Conservation Area (CCCA) at two universities, and to the Board of Trustees of WLT. I don’t think I have ever prepared so much for a presentation. I showed it to Provita colleagues, to WLT staff, tweaked it and rehearsed many times; John and Viv were always encouraging “you’ll be just fine”. It went well in the end (I think!), and I felt so relieved when Rohini said (not exact words) “trust me, we will do our best to continue to support your work”. From that trip on, the time I’ve spent sharing with John, Viv, WLT staff and partners have all been experiences that shaped me a great deal as a young and growing conservation professional. Symposiums have been moments to dream of what could be done with Provita’s projects, learning from so many experiences across the globe and such diverse approaches to conservation, from payment for ecosystem services to management of threatened species; from carbon markets to engaging local and indigenous communities. Having WLT as a partner has meant to Provita the only opportunity to secure land at the place that has been our main field site for nearly 30 years. As legal protection was strongly requested by local communities and organizations, and yet delayed and further delayed, the WLT-funded CCCA is the only area dedicated to protect key dry ecosystems, habitat to seven threatened and endemic or nearly endemic birds and mammals. Working for nature conservation in Venezuela, as we go through its worst economic, political and social crisis in recent history, is more than a challenge. Many organizations stopped working or supporting projects in the country. But we continue to count on WLT, not only as a sponsor and space for learning, but as a concerned partner eager to find conservation opportunities amidst the crisis and ready to give a hand when needed. Thanks so much for so many opportunities!
Tuan Anh Pham, Deputy Director, Viet Nature Conservation Centre For John and Viv As a small guesture of recognition for John and Viv’s life-long dedication and proud legacy for conservation and WLT, I was asked to share our memories and personal experiences working with them, especially in the field. Viet Nature hasn’t had the privilege of welcoming them to Vietnam, though the invitation is still open... I’ve met them several times during WLT Partner symposiums, but they were always surrounded by many long-term friends and colleagues in the Alliance with endless chats.... Despite my big respect to their huge contribution to conservation, what shall I write now about John and Viv? Then I ask a few questions and answer them myself: • •
M Stanley Price M Stanley Price
Who founded WLT 30 years ago? John and Viv. I am extremely impressed and “envious” that WLT has Sir David Attenbough, David Gower, Chris Packham and Steve Backshall as its Patrons, and so many extremely renowned, passionate and dedicated Trustees and Council members. I must say, in my experience, WLT’s Trustees are among a few expatriates who have walked many miles through our dense tropical forest and slept in hammocks in field visits with our staff. Who invited them in and why did they agree to support WLT? Who else if it was not John and Viv with WLT’s vision and achievements in conservation. Roger Wilson – the late Conservation Director of WLT – was the “founding father” of the joined WLT – Viet Nature project at Khe Nuoc Trong, Quang Binh province, Vietnam. For WLT, Khe Nuoc Trong is just another successful project in challenging situations, but for Viet Nature, it was the first and biggest long-term project since its foundation in 2012, the project that brings a lot of respect and pride to Viet Nature in the conservation community in Vietnam and beyond. Who was behind and supported Roger in his venture to that new land? John and Viv (and, of course, WLT’s Trustees). I can’t thank them enough for that.
So, do I need to write anything about John and Viv themselves? Maybe not. Just look at WLT’s respectful, dedicated and effective Patrons, Trustees, Council members and staff, and what they have achieved in the last thirty years. John and Viv are always at the background. I have a photo with John and Viv last year at their new house near Halesworth. The photo was taken when we were trying some of John’s beer collection. As always, Viv is looking at John lovingly and with admiration. She voluntarily abandoned her spinning, weaving and knitting hobbies to stand behind all his success. I hope John and Viv will be around for a long time as advisors to WLT Partners. Also, I would like to wish them enjoyable time with their other hobbies.
M Stanley Price M Stanley Price
Visit to Gemfields, Zambia 2011
Adam Pope, Chairman of the Board, Kasanka Trust, Zambia The World Land Trust’s involvement with the Kasanka Trust (KT) began through efforts to support the Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Society which was attempting to establish a wildlife corridor between the South Luangwa valley protected areas and the Lavushi Manda National Park on the northern plateau. The plan involved the purchase of the 10,000 ha Mutinondo Wilderness as part of the proposed corridor structure. In the event that initiative did not materialise. But in the process of reviewing the options, WLT through the wonderful Roger Wilson and Mary McEvoy started a discussion with the Kasanka Trust which was managing Lavushi Manda. That discussion led on to KT receiving its first funding from WLT in 2014, supporting wetland protected area management on the north side of the Luangwa watershed in the Luapula-Chambeshi valley. WLT also entered into a separate agreement to provide support through the Keepers of the Wild support and has maintained this commitment since 2014. In 2017 KT made a decision to return the management of the Lavushi Manda National Park to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and ultimately to the African Parks Network. African Parks has much larger funding resources and is already managing the extensive Bangweulu Game Management Area (GMA) that adjoins Lavushi Manda. KT simultaneously then re-focussed on the Kasanka National Park and its surrounding Kafinda Game Management Area. Much of WLT’s current support to KT is now directed at building stronger relationships in the Kafinda communities that surround Kasanka. Without their constructive engagement a rosy future for the park and its GMA may not be quite so rosy. Other vital WLT support goes towards the essential park protection work needed to control mammal and fish poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife products. A strong emphasis is on improving park protection using SMART technologies and methods, including the outlier elephant population that spends much of its time in Kasanka and represents a flagship species for the park. Approximately one third of the Kasanka National Park lies west of the Luwombwa River. Although the river can be crossed during the dry season, in the high flow period from November to June normal management activities across the river are problematic. WLT support to providing permanent crossings of the Luwombwa and Kankonto Rivers is a key element of KT’s future plans to extend effective management across the whole national park and the surrounding Kafinda GMA buffer zone. Work is in progress with National Parks and the Zambian Road Development Agency to install pontoons with the necessary spans to cross the Luwombwa and Kankonto Rivers, even at high flood. We are proud to be able to fix a plaque to the Lowombwa pontoon, once completed, honouring the considerable efforts of John and Viv Burton in support of WLT and indirectly of KT. Although they have never visited Kasanka (and we hope they will now), John and Viv were both heavily involved in the initial efforts to try and secure the Luangwa-Lavushi corridor - that resulted in WLT’s first involvement with the Kasanka Trust. We thank them and wish them a busy and happy retirement and an early visit to one end of the epic straw-coloured fruit bat migration and the home to elephant, sitatunga, puku and much attendant and splendid biodiversity!
Luwombwa PONTOON PLAQUE The Kasanka Trust Limited has pleasure in gifting thE Luwombwa ANd KANKONTO PONTOON crossings to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife towards the improved and sustained management of the Kasanka NatioNal Park and particularly its western zone.
Proposed Luwombwa pontoon site
The World Land Trust in the United Kingdom provided funding to support the construction of the PONTOONS. In recognising this support, THE KASANKA TRUST acknowledges and appreciates the roles of John and Vivian Burton in creating and guiding the World Land Trust for 30 years; accordingly thESE PONTOONS ARE dedicated to them.
Further words and celebrations Mark Carwardine, former Council member John and Viv Burton? You mean there is only one of each?! I assumed there must have been dozens of them. How else could they have achieved so much? Their superhuman efforts for wildlife have made such a phenomenal difference to the world and I feel honoured to have worked with such lovely and passionate people on all sorts of conservation issues and fund-raising activities over so many years. And I count myself exceptionally lucky to have had two such good friends for more than three decades. John and Viv - I wish you all the very best in your retirement from my favourite conservation organisation - WLT - though I know you will never really stop! Now try and make time to enjoy some of the wildlife and wild places you have so successfully managed to protect.
Albertino Abela, former Trustee I met John 20 years ago when the WLT was still a relatively small organisation. It was evident from our very first meetings that John’s enthusiasm and conservation credentials were impressive and his vision presented as a tangible dream that could transform the conservation and protection of wildlife habitats. John and I soon after flew to Patagonia and, in collaboration with FPN, John achieved WLTs largest land purchase at the time. Further trips together followed over the years to the Atlantic rainforests of Argentina, the dry Chaco in Paraguay and recently to Armenia in aid of WLT’s projects, with Viv holding the fort in Halesworth. Through my admiration and confidence in John’s vision I started a journey to support and express my own love of conservation by wholeheartedly supporting the WLT. It has led to so many memorable milestones, witnessing the growth and success of the World Land Trust. Being a very small part of that exceptional conservation journey with them is something I’m very proud of. It has been my pleasure to know both John and Viv not only professionally over the years but as good friends. Their unswerving dedication to the WLT, the realisation through hard work, vision and ethical practices of their dream is nothing short of remarkable and I hope a model that others may be inspired to follow in the future. I have no doubt the World Land Trust will continue to be ground-breaking and a living legacy that John and Viv should to be so very proud of. I am grateful to them for allowing me to see and be a small part of that wonderful journey and I congratulate them wholeheartedly on all they have achieved.
Bruce Pearson, former Council member I made only one overseas trip with John, to Zambia in 2011. I was with a PR team plus one or two others on council invited to look at the work of mining company Gemfields and their possible support of WLT. My memories are of us being taken down into the bowels of the earth to watch emeralds being extracted, followed by a few beers in a safari lodge where we were entertained by the most spectacular lightening storm and terrifying deluge over the Luangwa Valley ......... and later John spotting chameleons from the vehicle as we drove through the national park at dusk!
E Shaughessy Elaine Shaughnessy, former Council member In 1989 Viv and John moved to Suffolk and began the “Programme for Belize”. Two years later the World Land Trust was formed, and the rest, as they say is history! I joined IUCN – International Union of Conservation of Nature and in 1998 became Head of Publishing. Thanks to John, IUCN’s Depository Library Scheme was widened to include making publications freely available in developing countries through NHBS and WLT, and thousands of books were distributed. In 2005, I had the privilege of being invited to serve on WLT’s Council and again in 2011. Today, I am incredibly proud to be an Ambassador for WLT. Along the way we have worked together on a number of projects and particularly memorable are those celebrating Linnaeus’ tercentenary in 2006 with the Linnean Society of London and the World Land Trust’s 21st anniversary in 2010. Here are some reminders.
Sir Kenneth Carlisle, former Council member and Trustee
John and Viv in all their time at the WLT took on ambitious and seemingly impossible projects, and somehow always triumphed. Without that vision, and indeed stubbornness, they could never have made the WLT into such a unique and successful conservation initiative. One challenging, or perhaps crazy, idea in which I helped was their wish to stage a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. With their charm and persistence they assembled a talented team to develop the concept, design the garden, gather the plants and raise the substantial finance. The garden was to be in the scientific section of the Show inside the Marquee. It was to be a hut in the Atlantic Rain Forest in Brazil with relevant plants and a screen at the back showing live shots of that forest in actual time. The aim was to warn of the danger to this special habitat and to raise the profile of the WLT. John and Viv galvanised this disparate team to work together and to meet impossible deadlines. The great week arrived and the display was put together in the few days allowed. The judges descended, and the next day the WLT found that they not only had a Gold Medal but had won the award for the best scientific exhibit in the Show. Others spend a lifetime pursuing gold at Chelsea year after year without success, but John and Viv achieved the impossible at their first attempt.
Simon Lyster, former Trustee and Chair of Board One of the many joys of being a Trustee of World Land Trust was visiting projects and seeing first hand the conservation achievements of WLT. Enabling Hutan, our local partner, to buy more than 30 parcels of land along the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, Borneo was top of my highlights list. The purchase of those land parcels meant protected areas on either side could be linked and a massive diversity of species, from orangutans to proboscis monkeys to rhinoceros hornbills, could freely move through the corridor. I have never seen such abundant wildlife in a tropical forest, and John and Vivâ€™s talent was finding the brilliant local partner where, together, we could make a huge difference for conservation. Visiting elephant corridors in India, established with the help of our local partner Wildlife Trust of India, was another highlight. And at the other side of the world, visiting projects and partners in Argentina, was also very special. There, John and Viv again excelled themselves in finding partners who have done brilliant work in buying land to protect wildlife. Land secured by WLT varies from windswept Patagonian steppe near the spectacular Peninsular Valdes, with its shaggy guanacos and extraordinary (and fast declining) mara or Patagonian hares that look like a cross between a giant rabbit and a kangaroo, to lush tropical forest in Misiones where jaguars and indigenous Guarani people successfully co-exist.
The variety and quality of land secured by World Land Trust, and the brilliance of our local partners â€“ all found by John and Viv â€“ are what stand out for me. John and Viv should be truly proud of what they have achieved, and I have no doubt their legacy will live on for many, many years to come.
Mark Stanley Price, Trustee
Brazil 2009 M Stanley Price
I had followed WLT at a distance for many, many years, impressed by the Belize model and the tag line “Real acres in real places”. But, I was surprised in 2009 to take a phone call from John Burton, suggesting lunch in London. At John’s favourite basement pub near Piccadilly in 2009, he invited me to join Council to enhance its African expertise. I readily agreed. Since then, I have helped facilitate Partners’ meetings in Brazil, Amsterdam, at Kew, and at Thetford in 2018, each providing solid evidence of the value and strength of the Partnership. In 2014 I volunteered to visit Vietnam with Roger Wilson and Natalie Singleton to assess the wisdom of WLT becoming engaged there. I am so glad WLT then committed to do so. It was a memorable trip, for as Tuan Anh says, “I must say, in my experience, WLT’s trustees are among a few expatriates who walked many miles through our dense tropical forest and slept in hammocks in field visits with our staff.” And this does not mention the many, sometimes waist-deep river crossings and the leeches.
Vietnam 2014 M Stanley Price
I joined the Board in 2017, and have chaired the Conservation Working Group, a mix of staff, Council and Board members since its inception also in 2017. This group’s activities have given me an even greater insight into the creativity, diligence and quality of WLT’s conservation programme – if further evidence really was needed. All this is due to leadership, and John’s perception and skill at spotting an opportunity that has been missed or overlooked by the larger conservation bodies. WLT is a niche conservation operation, but what a niche and what a reputation! How many others turn down so many funding opportunities? We have so much to thank John and Viv for, and can only wish them time now to do what they really want to do, and we shall strive to ensure WLT continues to flourish, making a difference around the world.
Vietnam 2014 M Stanley Price
Diana Bell, former Council member
Nicola Davies, Trustee It is such a pleasure to have been asked to contribute to this retrospective. You have both been such key people in my life for so many years and when I think back of the time we’ve been together it has been dominated by laughter, enlightenment and love. These times have all been memorable for a variety of reasons. I am so proud to have been involved with WLT and witnessed its rapid and successful expansion. Your sessions with our Masters students have always been inspirational as have their work placements in Halesworth. I know that we will continue to be close friends and colleagues for many more years.
Nick Brown, Trustee My first involvement with the World Land Trust came about as a result of a climate change initiative on the part of my company, Nikwax Ltd. We were looking for a trustworthy and authentic means to balance out our operational carbon emissions. A search brought up the World Land Trust as the best option. Nikwax has, by investing in reforestation in Ecuador via the WLT, dealt with all operational carbon emissions since the business began, 42 years ago. In the process, I met John and Viv Burton, founders of WLT. They are an outstandingly creative couple who have applied their vision to the conservation of key habitats for endangered species, worldwide. They formed and crafted an international community of conservationists and donors that serves as an example to all environmentalists. I would like to thank them personally for enriching my life through my involvement with the WLT.
For almost all of my adult life the name ‘Burton’ has been there like a beacon shining across the landscape of conservation. Everyone I came into contact with as a young zoological researcher and Natural History Unit presenter, knew it. The Burtons were legends, with a breadth, depth and reach of knowledge, experience and expertise that seemed to bind together and inform the conservation community. I can’t remember now how I came to be an ambassador for WLT, but I remember being nervous about meeting ‘The Burtons’, these two colossi of the world I inhabited, who knew and had worked with all of my heroes. But John and Viv weren’t intimidating at all, they were warm, totally welcoming and full of fun! Their belief that I had something to contribute to WLT made me believe it too. Since that first, nervous meeting in a room full of chattering people, I’ve had the privilege of seeing John and Viv at work in all sorts of places, with all sorts of people, from raising toasts with an Armenian mayor, negotiating with stiff government officials, to working a room full of celebs. Their approach in all contexts is the same: open and human. Yes, the expertise, the scientific knowledge, the experience are all there, underpinning everything that they do, but that serious weight is lightly carried. The Burton style is all about human interaction - real, honest, direct - tough too, when it needs to be, but always warm and always with a readiness to listen. There are so many good things that John and Viv have built in to the fabric of the organisation they created - but all of them can be summed up in one word: ‘relationship’. WLT is all about relationships, about the bonds of mutual respect and friendship that run between this organisation and its partners around the world, and the deep connections between all humans and the network of life around the planet, that supports us all. The fundamental humanity that John and Viv embody is what makes WLT special and makes it able to punch above its weight. Their dedication and their skill, their knowledge and intelligence will stand WLT in good stead in its future battles to protect Earth’s vital biodiversity, but it is their warmth and their talent for friendship that is their greatest and most lasting gift.
M Stanley Price
Partners meeting, Sierra Gorda, Mexico, 2014
Honorary Graduate, University of Suffolk, October 2012
February 2019 The Council of Guyra Paraguay awards John with the ‘Grito de la Selva (‘Shout of the Forest’), given to those who have made an outstanding contribution to conservation in Paraguay. The sculpture is of the bare-throated bellbird, Procnias nudicollis, the national bird of Paraguay, whose shout draws attention to deforestation in the country.
The John Spedan Lewis Foundation Medal, 2019 The John Spedan Lewis Foundation medal is administered by the Linnean Society and is awarded annually at the Anniversary Meeting of the Linnean Society of London to an individual based in the UK, who is making a significant and innovative contribution to conservation, particularly in the fields of either ornithology, entomology or horticulture, whether in Britain or overseas.
Andrew von Preussen, former Council member and Trustee It must have been in 1989 or 1990 that a mutual friend introduced my wife and myself to John and Viv Burton with a view to persuade them to adopt a leveret, which my wife had raised but could no longer keep. So Harold, as the hare was known, was the key to our friendship. John at the time was very much involved in raising funds for Programme for Belize. Since then I became fascinated with the various projects as they developed. I was persuaded by the simple logic that to save species, we need to save their habitat and look after it to secure their future. In the early 2000’s WLT had its AGM and summer party at Elizabeth Jane Howard’s lovely home on the river Waveney at Bungay. When she was unable to do it anymore, I suggested that the annual event could be held at Thorpe Hall, with space enough in the barn for meetings, presentations and dinner. Viv called the event The Rose Garden Reception and it was held each year for about ten years. It was a great honour to be asked to join the board as a trustee in 2011 and so a privilege to see at first hand how WLT was able to increase its fund raising and expand the number of projects it could support. This was all through the efforts of its dedicated team at Halesworth and its project partners.
David Wallis, Council member The first time I met John, it was not long after Simon Lyster had, for some reason, invited me to join the WLT council following my departure from Whitley Fund for Nature– a suggestion which, after seeing the list of names I’d be joining, triggered a severe case of imposter syndrome– a feeling that very much continues to this day! My initial anxiety was only heightened when Simon invited me to join him for a coffee at the Royal Academy one afternoon to meet John, who would apparently rule on my suitability for inclusion on the Council. Simon warned me, in his way, that John could be somewhat of a prickly customer who “doesn’t always take a shine to everyone” and that I “shouldn’t take anything personally” if the meeting took a turn for the worse. Reassuringly, this was not the case, and my fears were not immediately dispelled when John took pains to explain to me why the Whitley model of recognising individuals was simply wrong. However, it quickly turned out that I needn’t have worried too much and I was soon having a great time as I found myself joining John in setting the world of conservation to rights. Frankly, from then on I was hooked and it has been a great pleasure to meet up with John as often as possible – and to share a bottle of red wine or two (usually two, never with food) – whenever he happens to be passing through London. These meetings in a Liverpool Street wine bar always ending in a reassuringly familiar way – with a gruff farewell, a hastily tossed twenty pound note and a dash for an imminently departing Ipswich-bound train. All this aside, I am hugely grateful to John and Viv (and Simon!) for giving me the opportunity to support WLT in some small way. On a personal level, John continues to be a great role model and mentor, living proof of the value of eschewing the obvious, of taking risks and, to paraphrase Fleetwood Mac, going your own way.
Pauline Harrison, Trustee
Ken Burnett, Trustee
Alistair Gammell, Trustee John, you and I first worked together campaigning against the then almost unregulated wildlife trade, but that was just an important but essentially ordinary conservation campaign. But when you and Viv left FFI, you disappeared briefly from my orbit but then resurfaced with an extraordinary idea – you saw that to save areas of forest, conservationists needed not just to campaign against forest destruction, important though that was, but to actively go out and with local conser vationists, acquire large areas of forest for conser vation and run them commercially, rather than leaving them for others to acquire and destroy. Your flagship Programme for Belize was a spectacular proof of concept, a massive area of forest conserved for its wildlife. You both not only had that vision, but the chutzpah, lacking in most of us, to make that vision reality and finally the wisdom and leadership to start and then grow the World Land Trust to implement the vision more widely. What a contribution to conservation - a transformative idea successfully implemented worldwide, now widely imitated by others and the establishment of WLT to carry the work forward.
Anne Harley, Trustee I was honoured to be invited to join the Board of an organisation that has been led by a conservationist of the stature of John, and I am sorry that I shall not have much opportunity to work with him. John’s lifetime achievements are exceptional, and he leaves behind him an organisation that has saved substantial hectarage and the species within it, for conservation. Viv’s support, and her professional skill as a communications and fundraising specialist mean that together they leave behind an organisation with a strong history and a sustainable future. I wish them both well in their retirement. With best wishes, Anne Harley
Thank you both for your inspiration, friendship and the difference you have made to the future of this world. Alistair
George Sawtell, Council member Over many years I was aware of the WLT through the nature writing of Simon Barnes. When I was looking for my next trustee role I wanted to contribute to an organisation that supported conservation of wildlife and their habitats.
Mark Avery, Trustee John and Viv have been an inspiration to nature conservationists all over the world as well as those who have worked closely with them in the World Land Trust. They have been a great team and have done a great job. I feel privileged to have spent time with them.
Nigel Massen, Council member
I’ve been lucky to get to know John and Viv over the past 15 years on book-related projects and now through WLT Council. Their ability to bring wildlife, people, places and ideas together with unstoppable knowledge and enthusiasm is truly inspirational.
Within a few days of sending an introductory email I heard back from Viv suggesting I come to the annual summer post-AGM drinks. David Attenborough would be present but I was to keep that quiet. At the meeting I met Simon and Bill Oddie both of whose books line my shelves. More importantly I started to learn about the amazing work that John, Viv and team had achieved over 30 years. The concept and message is simple but incredibly effective. I felt very humble to join such an amazing group of people performing such valuable work in many countries. What I particularly like was John and Viv’s huge knowledge of conservation and what a lovely and friendly team they all are. It can’t be often that two people have had a career that has left such a legacy that will continue to thrive.
2018 WTI 2018 WTI
October 2018: John and Viv receiving a Lifetime Achievement award for their contribution to Indian elephant conservation on World Elephant Day, in Delhi, followed by a visit to Ranthampore
Afterword John and Viv, What more can I say, to add to the astonishing words and reminiscences of so many persons associated with WLT over thirty years? Reading any single contribution in this album yields some insight into the esteem in which you both and WLT are held. People may describe WLT as a niche or boutique conservation body, but its size today, and its activities, such as in carbon offsetting, put it right at the forefront of contemporary conservation. And despite the phenomenal growth that you have stimulated and overseen, WLT remains grounded and true to the principles that you have clearly articulated and lived by. So many points are made about the pair of you, but I think the clearest voice is the strength of relationships between WLT and its Partners: all have others who fund them as well, but their loyalty to WLT is evidently prime, helped by the trust WLT invests in them, and the opportunity to get together, share experiences and enjoy themselves at the Partners’ meetings. You have so much to be proud of, even if you don’t want it shouted from the roof tops. We who help with the governance of WLT are enormously grateful. We must face the challenge of maintaining WLT’s momentum and reputation, knowing that change ahead is inevitable, but that you both will be providing wisdom in the background. We hope that this album will bring back memories and also be a record of past times and an exciting journey. We all send our very best wishes. Rohini Finch, Chair of the Board