This week marks the end of an era for ARC, and Herpetological Conservation Trust before then, as John Buckley, our longstanding Amphibian Conservation Officer hangs up his wellies, hat and notebook and retires!

Since starting with HCT in 1995, and even before that in the days of the British Herpetological Society’s Conservation Committee, John has inspired numerous young naturalists and gained the respect of his peers and colleagues.

ARC’s Senior Reserves Manger, Gary Powell says “John, a very good all round naturalist in the old fashioned sense that has become rare these days, is well known around the amphibian hotspots of the country and has almost become part of folklore at sites such as Woolmer Forest in Hampshire! His old-school, hands on approach has encouraged and inspired many and his dedication and dogged determination to further the cause of natterjack toads and pool frogs in particular will be very hard to replicate in the future.”

Our CEO Dr Tony Gent says “In the 22 years that John has been with us, we have seen significant changes in the way that nature conservation is perceived and practiced with it ebbing in and out of favour politically and in the resources available.  However John’s enthusiasm and dedication to conserving amphibians and reptiles species has continued unabated.  On his retirement he will be able to look back at his significant role in improving the status and our understanding of our rarest amphibian species and through his passion for communication and engagement whole rafts of people of all ages and from all walks of life now know just how fantastic these animals are.  We know that retirement won’t stop him wanting to keep this going – and we look forward to seeing him continue for many years to come.”

ARC’s Chair of Trustees, Johnathan Webster says "John's passionate approach to herp conservation has been recognized by his many friends and colleagues and whilst retiring from ARC we all look forward to his continued input and support in the years ahead"   

Yvette Martin, ARC’s Amphibian Conservation Officer, who will be filling John’s very big wellies says “As a young child on holiday in Scotland I was curious about the strange sounds I heard at night coming from a number of ponds along a sandy beach. Investigating with my sister we found a man in one of the ponds holding a small toad with a yellow stripe down its back. Looking back I often wonder if I had met John years ago as a child and it was fate that brought him back into my life. A true naturalist, John has been more than just a mentor to me, he has been an inspiration and I am grateful for every day we got to spend together and every adventure we have shared. I am sure there will be more to come…”.

Everyone here at ARC will miss John’s unique approach to conservation and indeed life in general! Rather than the end of an era for amphibian conservation we like to think of this more as the start of a new chapter.  We have no doubt that he will remain a friend to both the Trust and to us individually, for many years. On behalf of ARC and the amphibians of the UK, Happy retirement John!