International League of Conservation Writers

Writing to inspire the love of nature and a passion for its protection

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Wilderness in America


The International League of Conservation Writers is a forum to bring writers together from around the world who are writing to promote wilderness, nature, conservation, or using other means to protect and restore the natural areas, habitats, animals, and plants of our planet. ILCW will present periodic writing awards to authors who excel in this field.


ILCW Members Are Eligible to Use  David R. Brower Office for Conservation Writing

Come write, do research, and be near wild and protected areas in Colorado while working in the David R. Brower Office of Conservation Writing. Sit at the same desk used by Dave Brower. There is no cost to use the office.
If interested apply here.

  “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we aredoing to ourselves and to one another.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

ILCW Member Writings

If you would like to share one of your writings with other ILCW members, send to patty.


A World Animal Day Poem

ILCW member Susan Richardson (UK) is World Animal Day's poet-in-residence and was specially-commissioned to write the following poem for World Animal Day 2016. Her poem focuses on the critical global issue of ocean debris and the injuries/deaths suffered by marine creatures, including leatherback turtles, when they become entangled in discarded fishing nets (known as ghost gear) or ingest plastic rubbish that they mistake for prey. At the bottom of the page you can click on the link to hear Susan reciting Waste. 



By Susan Richardson,
ILCW member (UK)


1. Net      

The Ghost of Fishing Past has failed

                  to fade.

It will haunt degradable dreams

for decade after leathery decade.


The Ghost of Fishing Present

is not the one doing the moaning.

What you hear is the sound

of a thousand gouged flippers.

Mangled skin. Tangled necks.

Flexible shells yelling for protection.


The Ghost of Fishing Yet to Come

nets every ocean current and tide.

Entire gyres are trapped.

Waves     writhe    and     thrash

as the sea sinks

            to the bottom of itself.


2. Bag 

Her prey migrates

from chip shop

and Tesco

from High Street

and suburb from

windgust and

gutter from

fly-tip and

river from

storm drain

and foreshore

from shallows

and deeps

till it reaches

the pelagic zone,

her home

in the open sea.


As it floats

past, she grabs

it, drags it

down her

barbed throat,

adds it to

a gut already

stuffed with




near to

the surface,

genuine jellyfish

themselves ingest

plastic plankton.   


You can also listen to Susan reciting her wonderful poem.



ILCW Member News


The Urban Birder has New Website

ILCW member David Lindo (UK) has announced that his Urban Birder organization has a new website. Now you can check out the latest bird watching tours (wonderful for birders and travelers alike), educational programs, and read up on a collection of PDFs of articles about birds in cities around the globe or catch David’s latest blog posts.




Peoples Climate Marches to Occur Across USA April 29

Many environmental groups and other unrelated organizations are concerned with the new US president’s fondness for the fossil fuel industry. Reinstating the construction on the Keystone Pipeline (that was defeated due to its environmental threat), the proposed deep budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency that will undo many protections now in place for the environment, and his refusal to acknowledge the reality of climate change are just a few items that have many Americans “up in arms.” Protest marches will take place across the country and in Washington, DC. To find a march in your area go here.


If It Stinks To Be Greater Adjutant Storks,
It Must Mean We’re Neck-Deep In Filth

By Neha Sinha, ILCW Member (India)
Previously published by The Wire

How well we have failed that garbage, our dirtiest possessions, ends up inside sanctuaries, our cleanest places!


        Piles of garbage at Deepor Beel. Photo by Neha Sinha The National Green Tribunal has issued a notice to the Assam government on the mass death of 26 greater adjutant storks at a garbage dump adjoining Deepor Beel, near Guwahati. There are two ironies here: the Greater Adjutant, a towering, endangered stork standing over five feet tall, has been routinely documented to be subsisting almost entirely on trash in Guwahati. This is a tragicomic adaptation for a hunting and scavenging bird that otherwise eats fish, rats and snakes. The second irony is that nearly all of Guwahati’s waste is illegally going into Deepor Beel, a wetland that is notified as a sanctuary and internationally considered to be important.

        Sanctuaries and protected areas are meant to have eco-sensitive and buffer zones with minimal human intervention and pollution. This is not the case for Assam’s Deepor Beel, where the state government has not taken effective steps to safeguard the small sanctuary area.

        One of the approaches to the beel, a permanent freshwater lake, is through Guwahati’s garbage dump. The trash simmers in huge mountains, putrefying in the heat and flowing into the beel and freshwater marshland. Several notices have been served to the municipality to relocate the dump. In 2012, the chief wildlife warden of Assam wrote a letter to the commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation stating that garbage was harming the wetland and that dumping garbage in a wetland was prohibited under the Wetland Rules. The warden also asked for the garbage dump and a solid-waste treatment plant to be relocated away from the eco-sensitive area of the wetland.

        In 2017, the mass death of 26 Greater Adjutant storks raises the obvious question: with growing garbage and pollution, what is the future of scavenging birds?
        Some would say that birds adapting to eat garbage is a form of reconciliation ecology in an increasingly anthropogenic environment. With the human footprint growing everywhere, carnivorous birds eating non-vegetarian trash seems like some kind of an adaptation.

        For instance, the presence of storks in garbage dumps in Guwahati has come to be so accepted that the state government and civil society are using the dump as release sites for birds. The same dump is also the repository for biomedical waste, which veterinarians say could potentially kill any animal if it were to be ingested. In 2016, a Greater Adjutant chick that had fallen out of its nest was nursed back to health. When deemed fit for release, it was let go in a garbage dump in Boragoan area of the city, which in turn leads into Deepor Beel. While the chick would be surrounded by trash, there was also a colony of storks living in the area to keep it company.

        It is still not clear what happened to the storks in Guwahati. Per preliminary results, the death doesn’t seem to be from avian influenza. While toxic poisoning is the most common guess, there may also be a slim chance that the birds died of a viral disease. The Deepor Beel phenomena of storks feeding continuously on garbage has been seen as both peculiar and surprising – but most agree that it is not natural. Usually storks fly long distances to find food, which also helps in population intermixing and so avoiding genetic inbreeding.

        “Owing to the easy accessibility of food, it is unlikely that the bird that is foraging on garbage will stop eating garbage. But if we segregate the waste at source, the bird will not be exposed to toxic chemicals or accidentally swallow plastic with the food. Management of garbage at the source and at the dumping ground is key,” says Narayan Sharma, an assistant professor in the department of environmental biology and wildlife sciences, Cotton College State University, Guwahati.

        That we are not treating our garbage well is known. And when it comes to the disposal of large quantities of solid waste, wetlands have been looked at as wastelands. A similar case is in Tamil Nadu’s Pallikaranai, where trash is freely dumped into the Pallikaranai wetland on the outskirts of Chennai despite a court having intervened to stop it.

        But the impact of garbage and toxins on species is still to be understood. Traditionally, Greater Adjutants used to fly in the sky, alongside vultures, looking for food. As the vulture population crashed, ecologists have wondered what the fate of the storks would be. In Guwahati’s huge mountains of garbage, the storks discovered feeding grounds – but it is certainly an uneasy truce. Among bird species, scavengers are especially at risk of poisoning because a single infected carcass can affect many birds. Scavenging birds tend to feed en masse.

        For example, gyps vultures are on the brink of extinction in India because a human painkiller drug, diclofenac, causes them to die. Because scavenging vultures feed together, a single toxic carcass can kill up to 200 birds. Recently, Assam witnessed the death of several vultures as they ate carcasses meant to poison stray dogs. In 2015, 54 vultures were killed in one day in Sibsagar and 55 more later in the year.

        Scavenging in toxic environments is a harsh reality for birds. Nonetheless, storks eating trash may not be a preferred choice. In Assam, storks are also found in Nagaon (where they do not eat garbage). In Bihar, Greater Adjutant storks have never been seen eating garbage. There are breeding populations of the species in Kadwa Kosi diara in the Ganges and in Khagaria. “This could possibly be because the garbage dumps here are smaller and the areas where the storks breed don’t have significant non-vegetarian demographics,” says wildlife conservationist Arvind Mishra. “Of course there is also the fact that there are natural wetlands for the storks to feed in. They eat snakes and rats in paddy fields, and fish from waterbodies.”

        Authorities in Guwahati have assured the NGT that the stork death matter is being looked at and a criminal investigation – to see if the poisoning was deliberate – is also underway. But whether anyone is nabbed or not, one thing is abundantly clear: we are up to our noses in filth and action has to be immediate. It is our collective failure if garbage, our dirtiest possessions, goes into sanctuaries, our cleanest places.

New Books

So You Want to Know About the Environment

New from writer, doodler, treehugger Bijal Vachharajani. An ILCW Member (India) Bijal has announced two new books for children that sound fun for all ages.Ever wondered what it is like to live on a planet that’s a few degrees warmer, or how wasting food is the similar to flushing water down the drain, or what exactly does the word planned obsolescence mean. So You Want to Know About the Environment answers some of the questions about the world we live in, and how we impact it in different ways. Published by Red Turtle, an imprint of Rupa Books. Available at


What's Neema Eating Today?

Meet Neema who LOVES to eat. Slippery lychees, squishy jamuns, sour tamarinds, shiny spinach – she loves it all! Join Neema as she chews and chomps her way through the year. A Level 1 story about the joy of eating seasonally, the book is part of a set of STEM series on the environment. What's Neema Eating Today? is published by Pratham Books StoryWeaver platform. Print copies should be out later in 2017.

When Bijal Vachharajani is not reading Harry Potter, she can be found traipsing around the jungles of India. In her spare time, she works so she can fund those trips and expensive Potter books. She did this by working as the Editor at Time Out Bengaluru. She has been a communication consultant with Fairtrade Asia Pacific and Humane Society International/India and writes about children’s literature and sustainable development as a freelance journalist. She was the South Asia Coordinator for, has a masters in Environment Security and Peace with a specialization in Climate Change and Security, was part of the launch team of Disney Adventures (a children’s magazine) and previously headed Kids for Tigers (a Sanctuary Asia program), working with schools in India regarding conservation.




Featured Video

Lost and Found

Their goal is to use the universal language of storytelling to showcase in narrative and visual format the most formidable rediscoveries of both vertebrates and invertebrates animals as well as plants from five continents.


Earth Optimism

celebrating a change in focus from problem to solution, from a sense of loss to one of hope.

Protecting the Rio Grande

Past Featured Videos




Calls for Work and Retreats


Alluvian accepts creative nonfiction, science journalism and science narratives, cartoons and art, and/or narrative analysis of data related to sustainability, climate change, the environmental sciences, the human engagement with nature, or other topics about the environment. Authors must be an undergraduate or have graduated with an undergraduate degree within the last 18 months. Accepting submissions for fall issue: Climate Change: And Away We Go! Deadline September 30, 2017.

Sapiens Plurum and ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination's 2017 Earth Day Short Fiction Contest has the theme "Can We Dream Big Enough Dreams?" Cash prizes. Submission window opens April 22nd and closes May 27. 

The Burke Museum (Seattle) is hosting its 9th annual Environmental Writing Workshop: Inspire, Observe, Inhabit on April 29th. Sign up ASAP as space is limited. 

Switched-On Gutenberg's upcoming "The Poetics of Space" issue is looking for poems, art, and photography exploring "space" and "home." Deadline is April 30, 2017. 

Sowing Creek Press has a call for essays for their upcoming anthology, "Natural Wonder: Time in Nature Can Change Your Life." Deadline is May 15, 2017.

Futurescape's 2017 writing contest, "Blue Sky Cities," is looking for stories set in the near-future where significant strides have been made in improving air quality and/or climate adaptation.  Stories should blend plot and character with the nuances (positive or negative) of technology, science, politics, and/or policy. No entry fee; prizes range from $500 - $2,000. Deadline is October 13, 2017

The Fourth River has launched Tributaries, a weekly, online publication of "...the brief and the inspiring, that which sustains and takes us through unexpected courses..." Nature or placed based short prose (500 words ), one poem, or one piece of visual art can be submitted here.  Each week we will feature a new piece on the front page of our web site.

Thank you to our source: Adrienne Ross Scanlan

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The Hudson: A River at Risk -- Upcoming Screenings
Jon Bowermaster, ILCW member (USA) and filmmaker has set up a series of screenings about the Hudson River and the environmental dangers it encounters. To see if there is a screening near you (or to schedule one) click here.To see the film trailer click here.






October 2017 Photo tour in  Chile of the Lakes Region and Patagonia, including Torres del Paine National Park with ILCW member Boyd Norton.

Boyd is the recipient of the prestigious Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography, presented to him in September 2015 by the Sierra Club president. He is the author and photographer of 17 books, including Serengeti: The Eternal Beginning (Fulcrum, 2011) and Conservation Photography Handbook: How to Save the World One Photo at a Time (Amherst Media, 2016) both of which received high praise from Jane Goodall and others. Boyd has been conducting his highly popular photography workshops for 43 years. His workshops have spanned the globe and have included Galapagos Islands, Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, Siberia, Alaska, Antarctica, Peru, Borneo, Bali, Belize and numerous locales in North America. For information on his scheduled workshops and others planned contact him

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Aug. 28-Sept. 2, 2017 Women River Writing and Sculpting Journey -- Canyonlands National Park, USA. ILCW member Page Lambert (writer) with featured guest, Roxanne Swentzell (sculptor) will journey 6 days and 5 nights down the Colorado River. Attendees will sculpt with their hands, using river clay and materials gathered from the land, and will also sculpt with words. For more information.

Roxanne Swentzell (L) with Page Lambert in front of Swentzell’s sculpture “Mud Woman

April 2018 Peru, Weaving Words and Women Spend 12 days in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu on this women writers’ retreat. Click here to add your name to "Tell Me More!" list



ILCW now on Facebook ILCW members, please check out the ILCW Facebook page and add content.

Tell us what you are working on, what changes you see in the area of conservation (good and bad) in your area, include news from you: have you recently won any awards or accolades? Have you recently published a new book or article or perhaps finished a piece of art, performance piece, photo that glorifies the natural world? This page is for you, please enjoy and generate interest in ILCW and what we do.

ILCW facebook

Looking for Creative People Who Appreciate Nature Do you have a friend or a colleague who is passionate about Nature and believes that we should protect what we have for future generations? ILCW welcomes all creative people (not just writers) who use their talent to bring awareness to the plight of our natural world. Have them apply to be an ILCW member at

Do you have news?

Let us know if you have won an award, written a new book, or launched a creative endeavor to bring awareness to conservation. Chances are the ILCW membership is not aware of these things, so be sure and tell us. Send items





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