Naturalist to be honoured for his work in supporting wildlife on island

Robert Burton. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Robert Burton. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A leading naturalist and author has been honoured for his work in promoting conservation in South Georgia.

The Morag Husband Campbell Medal. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The Morag Husband Campbell Medal. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Robert Wellesley Burton, of Hemingford Abbots, was presented with the Morag Husband Campbell Medal by the South Georgia Association in London last Friday.

The medal was in honour of Mr Burton’s “outstanding contributions to the study and conservation of wildlife and the heritage of South Georgia”.

South Georgia is a British overseas territory located in the southern Atlantic ocean.

Mr Burton said: “I am delighted to receive this award. I am lucky to have been one of many people involved with South Georgia - putting it on the map, so to speak – in recent years.

“When I first visited the island in 1964, it was terra incognita to most people. Nowadays, it has become familiar through television programmes about its spectacular and profuse wildlife, and through the interest in the explorer Ernest Shackleton. And now its importance in global ecology is being recognised.”

After completing a degree in zoology at Downing College, Cambridge University, Robert served as a biological assistant at the British Antarctic Survey base on Signy Island in South Orkney Islands for two years.

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In 1971-72 he was a member of the team initiating a new programme of research at Bird Island, South Georgia, where he assisted research on fur seals and albatrosses.

In the 1970s and 80s he took part in several expeditions to the Arctic. In 1994, he became director of the South Georgia Museum in Grytviken and during his four years the Norwegian Church was fully restored.

Since 1992 he has been lecturing on cruise ships in Antarctica and leading camping expeditions to Greenland for his small company, Arcturus Expeditions. More recently, he has supported conservation and heritage initiatives in South Georgia.

The medal was made possible by a bequest from a long-standing supporter of the association, Morag Husband Campbell. She was so enthralled when visiting South Georgia, she determined to leave a bequest to the association.

The award is to individuals who have contributed significantly to the understanding, appreciation and promotion of the territory.