GOTL | Ecologist Tom Langton: JNCC proposal on amphibians and reptiles


‘ Guests Off the Leash’ are short standalone audio comments and statements from conservationists, campaigners, charities, authors and members of our audience. If it needs to be said – say it here!

In this shortcast Tom Langton discusses the call for evidence made by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) which could lead to the removal of legislative protection for many of the UK’s amphibians and reptiles, and could “allow snake-bashing to become lawful again”.


Tom Langton started out in conservation in the mid-1970s, joining BTCV mid week and weekend tasks removing pine trees from heathland areas in  Dorset Hampshire and Surrey.  This led him to meet the British Herpetological Society Conservation committee and work on protecting rare species such as sand lizard, natterjack toad and smooth snakes as a teenager and then its first honorary conservation officer. London based, he found himself in the room at pivotal moments in the development of  nature conservation – not just the rare species amphibian and reptile conservation strategy, but the formation of Wildlife Link,  the passing of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in 1981 and the birth of the Bern Convention in Strasbourg.

Having completed an ecology degree, he set up the Toads on Roads campaign while completing a survey of Greater London for Great crested newts amongst other duties for the Fauna and Flora Preservation Society. During the 1980s he worked to get the more widespread UK amphibians and reptiles protection under Schedules 5&8 of the 1981 Act, making snake bashing illegal and raising awareness of the steady erosion of ponds from neglect, pollution and infilling, Gaining at least some protection for reptiles from losses of open undisturbed heathland and scrub pushing and pushing with the help of English Nature until adder was finally protected.

He went on to found Froglife and the UK Herpetofauna Groups network including the Frog Mortality Project with ZSL, looking at the threat from introduced diseases in and around London and the south of England.

The recent news that nine species could be dumped off the protected list due to a change in criteria for listing was not going to escape his attention.