OT and CD conservation awardFred Burton: 2009 Blue Turtle Award Winner


Cayman Islands’ conservationist is the first winner of JNCC’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies Nature Conservation Award


Fred Burton receives Blue Turtle Award from JNCC's Chair, Peter Bridgewater

Fred Burton MBE has worked in conservation in the Cayman Islands for over 20 years, with the last nine as the Director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme – an unsalaried position. He is deeply committed to creating a viable wild population of blue iguanas in their own protected area. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) yesterday evening celebrated Fred’s dedication, at a ceremony held in Peterborough. He was the inaugural winner of the ‘Blue Turtle’ Award for nature conservation in the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.


JNCC Chair, Peter Bridgewater, one of the panel of judges for the Award, said: “It is not often that one person’s efforts are contribute so much to bringing a species back from the brink of extinction, but in Fred’s case this was absolutely the case. There are many examples of extraordinary professional and enthusiastic work being done to conserve and manage the biodiversity of our Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies by the local populations, often with little fanfare.  JNCC wanted to help by, once a year, rewarding the work of a particular individual or group. For 2009, Fred was the unanimous choice of the judging panel.”


Blue Iguana ©Vin Fleming/JNCC

The Blue Iguana Recovery Programme relies heavily on its volunteer programme. Dedicated members of the local community feed and care for the animals in the captive breeding facility, as well as give talks and provide public education experiences. Key volunteers from overseas also contribute time and expertise in areas such as specialist veterinary care and radio tracking of released animals. The Recovery Plan for the Blue Iguana is a collaborative effort that is reviewed every five years with the involvement of representatives from local and international environmental agencies and groups.


Gina Ebanks-Petrie, Director, Department of Environment, Cayman Islands Government said of the Programme: “The Blue Iguana was once referred to as the most endangered rock iguana on the planet. Through Fred’s work a very successful captive breeding programme was established and blue iguanas are being re-introduced to the wild. Fred has taken the programme from a backyard project to a fully-fledged captive breeding facility which produces over 100 young iguanas for release into protected areas each year. The programme has been so successful that it serves as a model for other regional projects.”


Tara Pelembe, JNCC’s Overseas Territories Officer, commented: “We hope this is just the beginning of JNCC being able to shine a light on projects and actions that deserve a wider audience and acknowledgement. Fred is inspirational in his care for the blue iguana, and it is a pleasure to celebrate his success.”

For more information about the Blue Turtle award please contact the JNCC (please add OT to the subject line).