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.


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Whale Sighting Near The Statue of Liberty

 “It’s rare to have them inside of New York Harbor.”


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International League of Conservation Writers

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

Book Reviews home Awards

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


Book Review

Mike Shanahan

Ladders to Heaven: How fig trees shaped our history, fed our imaginations
and can enrich our future
(European ed.) 2016, 224 pages, Unbound, (European Ed.)

Gods, Wasps and Stranglers: The Secret History and Redemptive Future of Fig Trees (No. American ed.)

2016, 208 pages, Chelsea Green Publishing (No. Am. Ed.)

Hardcover and Ebook

They are trees of life and trees of knowledge. They are wish-fulfillers … rainforest royalty. They are the fig trees, and they have affected humanity in profound but little-known ways. Ladders to Heaven / Gods, Wasps and Stranglers tells their amazing story. Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles in the dawn of civilization. They feature in every major religion, starring alongside Adam and Eve, Krishna and Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. This is no coincidence – fig trees are special. They evolved when giant dinosaurs still roamed and have been shaping our world ever since. These trees intrigued Aristotle and amazed Alexander the Great. They were instrumental in Kenya’s struggle for independence and helped restore life after Krakatoa’s catastrophic eruption. Egypt’s Pharaohs hoped to meet fig trees in the afterlife and Queen Elizabeth II was asleep in one when she ascended the throne. And all because 80 million years ago these trees cut a curious deal with some tiny wasps. Thanks to this deal, figs sustain more species of birds and mammals than any other trees, making them vital to rainforests. In a time of falling trees and rising temperatures, their story offers hope. Ultimately, it’s a story about humanity’s relationship with nature. The story of the fig trees stretches back tens of millions of years, but it is as relevant to our future as it is to our past.

Praise for the book:

“Surprising, engrossing, disturbing, and promising, Gods, Wasps and Stranglers combines masterful storytelling and spellbinding science. This is a beautifully-written and important book about trees that have shaped human destiny.”

—Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus

“The complex web of ecological connections between fig trees, tropical forest animals and plants, as well as people and human culture is nothing short of a marvel. Gods, Wasps and Stranglers is a page-turner and a revelation: You will never again think of a fig as just something to eat. There is no better way to introduce the complexity and wonder of nature—and our intricate relationship with it. A must read.”

— Thomas E. Lovejoy, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University; fellow, National Geographic Society

“A real labour of love, concisely and elegantly told.”

—Fred Pearce, author of The New Wild; environmental consultant for

___New Scientist

Member Writings

View  past member writings published here

The King of the Amazon

By Donna Mulvenna, ILCW Member (French Guiana)

“To sit back hoping that someday, someway, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last - but eat you he will.”

– Ronald Reagan

CRIKEY! A word made famous by one man, Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. That he loved and respected crocodiles so much is evident in his daughter, Bindi. She is named after his favourite pet, a saltwater crocodile of the same name.

Despite Irwin’s work in spreading the virtues of saltwater crocodiles (salties), visions of them propelling their bodies out of the water to eat whole chickens and stories of them stalking their prey, often for days, have many tourists too terrified to venture north of Sydney. In fact, ask any Australian what they know about crocodiles and they will tell you, “to stay the hell away from them!”

Not too long ago, a fisherman in Weipa was attacked by a croc just down from his local pub. The croc locked its jaws around his leg and started to pull him backward toward the water. The fisherman held fast to a mangrove root until his pub mates, alerted by his screams, ran down and group tackled the croc.



When a tiger has no value

By Margi Prideaux, ILCW Member (Australia)

Nature is being monetized by global capitalism,

and it is about to get much worse.

Can it be halted?

Bengal tiger, Rajasthan India.
Photographer: Dibyendu Ash, Wikimedia Commons, CC by-SA 3.0

A few weeks ago the World Wide Fund for Nature released their latest Living Planet Report. Its findings have reverberated around the world, with the bleak news that the 3,706 wildlife populations that are actively monitored by scientists have declined by an average of 58 per cent since 1970 because of agriculture, fisheries, mining and other human activities. The report’s authors predict that this figure will reach 67 per cent by the end of the decade. How on earth has this happened?

The answer that’s often put forward is that wildlife protection laws in the ‘lawless’ regions of the world are woefully inadequate (meaning large swathes of Africa and Asia), but the true root of the problem is that nature is being monetized in order to generate profits for investors and corporations in a process that’s facilitated by changes in the structure of global governance—and it’s about to get much worse. Unless we get to grips with the real issues at stake, the destruction of nature is all-but guaranteed, except in those few parts of the world that are set aside as reserves for the enjoyment of wealthy visitors.



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



Border fencing threatens wildlife in Europe

By Zoltan Kun, ILCW member, (Hungary)

A recent research by Linnell JDC, Trouwborst A, Boitani L, Kaczensky P, Huber D, Reljic S, et al. on the effect of emerging border security fencing on wildlife found that such measures against human immigration might lead to the end of the Transboundary Nature Conservation Paradigm in Europe and beyond.

The refugee crisis of 2015 in Europe has seen many countries rush to construct border security fencing to divert or control the flow of people. This follows a trend of border fence construction across Eurasia during the post-9/11 era. The rapid erection of hundreds of kilometres of border security fences on both the external and internal borders of the EU was one of many responses to the perceived challenges associated with these refugees. These fences were erected as emergency measures with no environmental impact assessments concerning their design or placement.

This development has gone largely unnoticed by conservation biologists during an era in which, ironically, transboundary cooperation has emerged as a conservation paradigm. These fences represent a threat to wildlife because they can cause mortality, obstruct access to seasonally important resources, and reduce effective population size. Conservationists were quick to join those already protesting against these fences on humanitarian grounds, and images of red deer (Cervus elaphus) dying after becoming entangled in the coils of wire made media headlines in the region. The result has forced us to realise that the transboundary paradigm as we know it is gravely threatened.

The border security fence being constructed along the border between Slovenia (SLO) and Croatia (HR) separates all three large carnivore (LC) species in Slovenia from the core population areas in the Dinaric Mountains, impacting their long-term viability, severing the Natura 2000 network, and decreasing the potential for natural recolonization of the Alps.

The authors developed a set of recommendations to mitigate the negative impact of border fences.

Source: (and for more information) European Wilderness Society


Change in Giant Panda Status from
“Endangered” to “Vulnerable”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has changed the status of the Giant Panda from Endangered to Vulnerable. In 2014 1,864 Giant Pandas (excluding cubs) were found in the wild in China, up from 1,596 a decade earlier, with the current population trending at 2,060. The captive population is stable with 422 in captivity at the end of 2015. This exceeds the number set forth in the Species Survival Plan. The IUCN states that the vulnerable status is still at high risk of extinction in the wild and also warned that climate change and decreasing bamboo availability could reverse the gains made in the past few decades. More than one-third of the panda's bamboo habitat could disappear in the next 80 years, according to the IUCN.

Zhang Hemin, head of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Pandas, expressed concerns about the severely fragmented natural habitat which still threatens the lives of pandas. According to Zhang, “the wild giant panda population is broken up into 33 isolated groups, some with fewer than 10 individuals, severely limiting the gene pool. Of the 18 sub-populations consisting of fewer than 10 pandas, all face a high risk of collapse.”

Additionally, the reintroduction program is in its infancy and has a long way to go before it can be declared a success. Extensive research also needs to be conducted on contagious diseases in order to protect both the captive and wild Giant Panda populations.


The Hudson: A River At Risk

Albert Bierstadt "View of the Hudson Looking Across the Tappan Zee Towards Hook Mountain",
1866, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection   

ILCW member Jon Bowermaster is a writer and a filmmaker and master storyteller. Check out his website about current and past industries that endanger the health of the Hudson River that flows through New York State. It’s a unique way of telling a story with a website that weaves writing, photos, and films together.




Andrews Forest Writers' Residencies is open for applications for spring and fall 2017 residencies. Part of the Long-Term Ecological Reflections program, the residences are for "...creative writers whose work in any genre reflects a keen awareness of the natural world and an appreciation for both scientific and literary ways of knowing...residencies are intended to provide concentrated time for personal creative work that promises to further the exploration of the relationship of humans to the rest of the natural world." The one-week residencies include a $250 honorarium. Deadline is December 1 (no application fee). 

Homebound Publications Landmark Prize for Fiction is looking for fiction with a "...special focus on spirituality, travel, history, personal growth, and ecological." The winning manuscript will be announced in February 2017 and published by Homebound in late 2017. (There is no cash prize but Homebound offers a 20% royalty contract.) A finalist and/or honorable mentions will also be chosen and some (or all) may be offered publication. Deadline is January 1; there is a $25 reading fee. 

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.  

Also new at
The Fourth River is the 1st Annual Folio Contest. Poems that "...engages and interrogates our notions of place and nature and helps us see the world around us in a new way..." will be accepted November 1 - December 15; there is a $15 entry fee but the winner will receive a $500 cash prize and a 10-15 page folio feature in the fall online issue. 

Special Thanks to ILCW member Adrienne Ross Scanlan for this information.

January 31- February 12, 2017

Tanzania photo safari. This marks Boyd Norton’s 32nd year of his very popular Tanzania photo tours.

For information on his scheduled workshops and others planned contact him.

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

Peru, Weaving Words and Women

April 2018

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 to:

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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 at:

Wilderness in America

International League of Conservation Writers                                                     

4690 Table Mountain Dr., Suite 100                                                                    

Golden, Colorado, USA 80403

Phone: 303-277-1623

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