International League of Conservation Writers

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

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Wilderness Writing Award
Past Award Winners
How to Nominate

Wilderness in America

The Iternational 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
Nominate Your Favorite Writer by October 31  
“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

Nominate Your Favorite Writer by October 31

The Wilderness Writing Award for lifetime achievement is in recognition of a living writer’s published body of work relating to meaningful and significant writing on wild nature, the environment, or the land. Published writers from anywhere in the world are eligible. Nominations are to be in English, but the body of work does not need to be in English. Any member of the International League of Conservation Writers is eligible to nominate a candidate. This biannual award is a collaborative project between The WILD Foundation, Fulcrum Publishing, and the International League of Conservation Writers and was launched at the 8th World Wilderness Congress in Anchorage, Alaska (2005).

For more information

Past award winners


Prince Harry Visits Wilderness Foundation UK

ILCW member Jo Roberts, director of the Wilderness Foundation UK has Prince Harry take part in one of their outdoor classes. Read about Royal visitor for farm education project at BBC News.
Prince Harry joins students as they take part in activities including shelter building and fire lighting.
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LEWA Gives 1,000 Cooking Stoves to Community

In Kenya, where 90% of the rural population uses wood or charcoal fire to prepare their meals, LEWA Wildlife Conservancy has distributed 1,000 energy-saving cooking stoves. The use of the stoves reduces the demand for firewood, promotes the protection of forests, and leads to a reduction of smoke and toxic emissions. Read More.

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No Water No Life Newsletter
Sign up to get No Water No Life’s Weekly Drop Newsletter. To check out all that they do visit their website.

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One of World’s Largest Protected Areas Just Created Off the Coast of Easter Island
The Rapa Nui marine park is approximately the size of Chili. It will protect 142 endemic marine species that include 27 who are threatened with extinction. Read The Guardian article for more information.
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US Administration Considers Selling Power from Hydro-dams to Private Buyers
Will the US Administration sell power from the Columbia River Basin’s 250 hydro-dams to private buyers?  If so, will such for-profit owners maintain the integrity of Bonneville Power’s current federal system that coordinates releases of water, flood control, and spill patterns for fish? See the NY Times article.

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World’s First Panda Cub Born to Captive and Wild Parents
Pandas International announced that on July 31, a panda cub was born from a union between a captive female and wild male. Bringing genes in from the wild panda population will increase the genetic diversity of the captive tribe of pandas. The 15-year-old female giant panda Cao Cao was released into the wild on March 1 of this year. She had shown strong adaptability to living in the wild over the last seven years while at the Hetaoping training center. After nearly two months she was reintroduced to the training center where she had her cub.

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Corporal Souleymane of Mali Elephant Anti-poaching Unit Killed

The Wild Foundation is sad to announce that Caporal Souleymane Tangara, a member of their Mali Elephant Project’s Anti-poaching Unit, was killed by jihadists when responding to an attack on UN personnel in Douentza. To honor his legacy and provide support to the family he leaves behind, his wife and twin daughters, WILD is holding a week-long fundraiser. All funds raised will be sent to Souleymane’s family in Mali. Please consider donating to help provide his family with food, shelter, school fees, clothes, and transition to establishing a means of income. Here

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Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Paul Dutton

Annual Rhino Awards Ceremony, Johannesburg, South Africa

News of the Annual Rhino Awards Ceremony held 21 August in Johannesburg comes from ILCW member Paul Dutton. The Rhino Awards purpose is to raise awareness about what is being done to combat rhino poaching. Dutton, had nominated Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi for an award, here are Buthelezi’s comments:

Thank you to Mr Paul Dutton and the Game Ranger Association of Africa for their nomination, and thank you to the sponsors and patrons who make these Awards possible, not least the South African Department of Environmental Affairs.

I am honoured by this recognition of my life’s work in conservation. But I’m far more gratified that I didn’t win. Because the fight for our rhino must be taken up by the next generation. As much as the conservationists and patriots of my generation did, this fight is no longer ours. This is your fight now.

All that I have done over the past six decades to protect our natural heritage has been done with an eye on the future. I have keenly felt this responsibility, first as a traditional leader and then as a leader in politics and governance.

I am proud of the successes of the past. I am proud of how we managed to bring rhino back from near extinction in the seventies, securing their survival and populating parks throughout Africa. I am proud of the successes of the Tembe Elephant Park which I founded in KwaZulu Natal, and which is now a safe haven for our rhino as well.

I am proud to have established South Africa’s first Department of Nature Conservation, and – of course – I am proud of every award I received; because when I started out as a conservationist I was widely mocked for caring more about animals than I did about people.

When a country is waging a liberation struggle, giving attention to wildlife is seldom considered a priority. But to me, it was important. Because I wanted more than a political victory for South Africa. I wanted a rich inheritance.

As many victories and successes as we enjoyed, the fight is not over. Indeed, when it comes to conservation, the fight is heating up. Where I risked my reputation, conservationists now risk their lives.

We honour wildlife activists like Wayne Lotter who have fought against poaching at the cost of their lives. And we honour the men and women who still go out and fight, even as their colleagues fall.

These are the heroes of this generation. It is right that we honour them. I am therefore proud beyond measure to congratulate Mr Jabu Qayiso on winning tonight’s award.

I thank you for continuing this invaluable fight.

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Mali’s Elephants Get New Ally
Not a single elephant has been poached in Mali since the new Malian Combined Army-Ranger Anti-Poaching Brigade was deployed six months ago. In July 2017 three Dutch-trained ivory, weapons, and explosive detection dogs joined the team. To read more go to the Wild Foundation blog.

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Austria’s Kalkalpen National Park Turns 20
Kalkalpen National Park protects the last big forest wilderness of Austria, with the longest natural stream system in the Eastern Alps. Here, nature is the top priority. Colourful natural forests, crystal-clear mountain streams and enchanting alpine pastures provide habitats for an extraordinary diversity of animals and plants. Rare and endangered species, such as the lynx, have returned to the wild forest of Kalkalpen National Park and found a place to live.

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Giant Panda Has Twins
Lin Bing, the first Giant Panda born in Thailand recently gave birth to twins in China. These are the first pandas born at the Shenshuping protection facility in the Wolong National Nature Reserve since the 2008 earthquake that severely damaged the facility.

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Calls for Work and Retreats

Pulisher Seeks Stories on Climate Change
Extending the deadline for submissions!

The publisher of Life Plus 2 meters is looking for essays about living in a climate-change world. This non-commercial crowdsource project will offer prizes for essays selected.

Visions (stories submitted by 30 Sep (23:59 UTC) are eligible for prizes. Note that we have categories for authors who are under 26 and/or from lower-income countries. Get writing!

  • Visions submitted after that date but before 31 Oct are eligible for inclusion in the book. So you’re shy? Ok, fine. Send it in!

There’s no guarantee that all visions will be accepted, but we’ve got a huge variety of authors, and it’s great to get even more diversity in thinking about how we might live in a climate changed world.

Submission guidelines

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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.

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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

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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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Featured Video

Sylvia Earle

First Woman Named Chief Scientist of the
U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

TIME has a series of short films celebrating Women Firsts. This one is about Oceanographer and environmental hero Sylvia Earle.

Previous Featured Videos

Member Writing

A Sensory Experience

By Bhavna Menon (ILCW Member, India) Previously published by Nature in Focus

Birdsong, alarm calls and a life-altering experience with 23 visually-impaired children in the forests of Kanha National Park
It is exhilarating to be able to connect children to a forestscape, to watch them form a purely appreciative, non-transactional bond with nature. I have been blessed to be part of an initiative that gives me an opportunity to do just that. 
Last Wilderness Foundation (LWF) has been involved in the Village Kids’ Awareness Programme since the summer of 2012. The programme involves working with students living in the buffer zones of tiger reserves like Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Panna to help them understand the correlation between denizens of the forest and the need to protect them. It helps also, to understand the behaviour of a tiger as that of a wild animal rather than only a source of economic loss for the villagers in form of livestock lifting (which happens more often than not).

However, despite working in this landscape for the past five years, our most surreal experience came this year, in the form of 23 visually-impaired students from the Ananya Manav Sai Samiti, Jabalpur. The enthusiasm shown by these students — complemented by the initiative taken by the Kanha Forest Department and LWF — made it possible for us to take them on a forest safari through Kanha National Park in January for the very first time. 

Over the next day and a half, the children drank it all in: the early morning air heavy with birdsong, the calls and grunts of the grazing herbivores and the touch of an ageing sal tree.

They listened to the descriptions of the golden grasslands and the narrated ‘sight’ of a camp elephant throwing mud playfully on its back as it examined the meadows. The highlight for them, however, came in the form of a noisy Gaur as they heard it breaking off branches and chewing the leaves of a bamboo bush. 

What was remarkable was the heightening of our own senses. We stopped at every rustle, at the energetic crashing of langurs through the canopies and waited to examine the strong ‘mahul’ creeper, tracing the patterns on the leaves with our fingers, its softness delighting the students, making them shudder with excitement. 

Driving in the forest, the students noticed how some parts were relatively cooler. On being told that it was a mix of meadows and dense forest, the students put out their hands to examine the drop in the temperature and exclaimed excitedly that they could hear the streams in the parts of the forest that were coolest. 

“Does Kanha have a lot of hills? Has the vegetation changed? Do tigers live in such hilly regions?” asked the students as we drove on an incline. We struggled to keep pace with their intelligence and superior vision. 

At the Kanha Interpretation Centre, everyone's excitement was almost palpable as we introduced them to the different skeleton structures of animals. They carefully examined the diverse shapes with their hands, Blackbuck antlers emerging as the clear favourite. “Kitna sundar hai! (It's so beautiful!)” they exclaimed; gingerly wrapping their fingers around the ridges in the antlers. Loud gasps of admiration echoed through the museum as they came in contact with the teeth of the wild boar. “Baap re! bahut pene hain! (How sharp these are!)” As they tried to squeeze their hands into the embossed structure of a tiger’s pugmark, to understand the difference between male and female, all they could murmur in excitement was how beautiful the animal must be. 

The students’ happiness knew no bounds when they had an opportunity to meet the camp elephant, thanks to the Forest Department. They enjoyed the slight breeze caused by the flapping of its large ears and clung to us, shivering every time it moved. They touched the pachyderm’s wrinkled skin reverently, saying it was the best thing they had ever encountered.

The equaliser came, in my opinion, when we took the children to the dark room at the museum, for the sound and light show. This exhibits the nightlife of a forest with a recreation of a dimly-lit landscape inside a glass case with the sounds of different animals, climaxing with a tiger hunting a spotted deer.

As I struggled to adjust to the pitch dark, the students spoke admiringly of the atmosphere of the room, the number of steps they had climbed to get here and patiently waited for the show to begin. As the night life of the forest came to life with different calls, no one spoke, they were breathing it all in, shuffling slightly to the sound of rustling depicting animal movement and when it ended, they stood listing down all the things they had heard, clutching my hand in a fever of excitement, their reactions uncomplicated. I thought of the majority of tourists who visit the reserve every day, expecting the forest to deliver their money's worth and yet are never truly satisfied with the experience. These students took the experience holistically, step-by-step, marvelling with equal enthusiasm whether it was the call of a Golden Oriole or to the rough touch of a sal tree. I was overwhelmed in that room — albeit with my limited understanding of the lives of the children — and realised that sometimes happiness can be sought from the most uncomplicated of things, only if we allow it to be. 

Watch the children enjoy their day out in the jungle








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Book Reviews

Bernard Quetchenbach
Accidental Gravity
Residents, Travelers, and the Landscape of Memory
2017, Oregon State University Press
Paperback, 248 page

The compelling essays in Bernard Quetchenbach’s Accidental Gravity move from upstate New York to the western United States, from urban and suburban places to wild lands. In the first section of the book, he focuses on suburban neighborhoods, where residents respond ambivalently to golf-course geese and other unruly natural presences; in the second section, he juxtaposes these humanized places with Yellowstone National Park. Quetchenbach writes about current environmental issues in the Greater Yellowstone area—wildfire, invasive species, ever-increasing numbers of tourists—in the context of climate change and other contemporary pressures.

Accidental Gravity negotiates the difficult edge between a naive belief in an enduring, unassailable natural world and the equally naive belief that human life takes place in some unnatural, more mediated context. The title refers to the accidental but nonetheless meaningful nexus where the personal meets and combines with the universal—those serendipitous moments when the individual life connects to the larger rhythms of time and planet.

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Daniel Hudon
Brief Eulogies for Lost Animals: An Extinction Reader
2017, Pen & Anvil Press
Paperback, 138 pages

In this collection of one hundred brief eulogies, science writer and poet Daniel Hudon gives a literary voice to the losses stacking up in our present-day age of extinction. Natural history, poetic prose, reportage, and eulogy blend to form a tally of degraded habitats, and empty burrows, and of the songs of birds never to be heard again. Since the year 1500, nine hundred species have become extinct, yet their stories are not being told. This loss is a crisis in human values as our relatives on the tree of life are disappearing under our watch and because of our actions. There are no historical parallels here. Aldo Leopold said, “For one species to mourn another is a new thing under the sun.” In terse yet evocative writing, one hundred extinct animals from around the world are brought to life, from the freshwater mussels of Appalachia to the shrub frogs of Sri Lanka, and from the honeycreepers of Hawaii to the hopping mice of Australia, bringing the enormity of the present biodiversity crisis within our grasp. These animals deserve to be remembered, and with this book we can not only remember and mourn them, but honor them as well.

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Paul Dutton

Spirit of the Wilderness
2017, 30 Degrees South Publishers
Paperback, 320 pages

This is an autobiographical account of a career in conservation and of an abiding love affair with Spirit of the Wilderness, a Piper Super Cub, two-seater, light aircraft. It tells of a partnership between man and machine, which proved invaluable in countless campaigns to support and conserve wildlife and wilderness areas in southern Africa. A chance encounter in 1953 with the late Dr. Ian Player, South Africa's greatest name in conservation led to a career in that field which still continues after nearly sixty years. There are detailed and absorbing accounts of stewardship during the 1960s and 1970s of some of South Africa’s best loved and most beautiful reserves; Lake St Lucia, iMfolozi, Ndumo, and later the Gorongosa National Park, Zinave and the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique. There are tales of hair-raising episodes and some serious mishaps at the wheel of Spirit of the Wilderness, and on the ground, the author records what he was privileged to learn from the knowledge, experience and wisdom of indigenous game guards and local communities in South Africa and Mozambique. The reader will encounter a huge diversity of flora and fauna, both terrestrial and marine, some of it now perilously endangered, and also a remarkable cast of fellow eminent conservationists, filmmakers, writers, sangomas, soldiers and bandits from two wars in Mozambique, and is introduced to that country's then president Samora Machel, with whom Paul came to have an intriguingly cordial relationship.

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Lori Robinson (ILCW member) and Janie Chodosh

Wild Lives

Leading Conservationists on the Animals and the Planet They Love

2017, Skyhorse Publishing
Hardcover, 224 pages
Passionate and inspiring,Wild Lives is an important and timely reminder of the beauty and fragility of our world and the obligation that every person has towards preserving it.

“Almost every day we hear one more story about a species facing extinction, a habitat destroyed. And indeed, planet earth has never been so threatened by human actions. This is why Wild Lives is so desperately important. The people in this book are united by their belief that it is not too late to turn things around. You will be inspired by their stories. You will realize that there is hope for the future if we join the fight, if each of us does our bit.”

Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE,
and UN Messenger of Peace,
founder of the Jane Goodall Institute

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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.

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 April 21--May 2, 2018

Weaving Words and Women: A 12-day Peruvian Adventure
ILCW member Page Lambert will take adventurous women to the high Andes of Peru next April. There will be writing, markets, incredible food, horseback riding opportunities, Inca ruins, and more. For details, click here.


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

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 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 http://www.ilcwriters.org/application.html

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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:patty@ilcwriters.org

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