THE CLOSING AND PRESENTATION OF CERTIFICATES

THE CLOSING AND PRESENTATION OF CERTIFICATES

After the announcement of the results of the competition on 13 September, the closing and presentation of certificates to the winners was held at the school’s Putra Lestari hall on Friday, 29 September.  It was officiated by Mr. Aidie Bin Jantan, Deputy Director, Fully Residential and Excellent Schools Management Division, Ministry of Education, Malaysia. In his speech Mr. Aidie touched on the importance of wetlands and their conservation as well as the challenges which lay ahead for young writers in terms of using critical thinking skills.  Mr. Roslie Bin Ahmad, the principal of  Sekolah Menengah Sains Alam Shah in his welcome address also touched on the importance of the competition being a platform for young writers to use their thinking skills and creativity to express their views on wetland conservation. Mr. Cornelius Anuar Abdullah McAfee, the chief judge of the junior category in his overall comments said that the entries received were of a high standard and were largely original pieces, There were no cases of plagiarism detected.  Two video clips WETLANDS: KEEPING OUR PLANET  ALIVE AND WELL and THE PANTANAL, THE LARGEST  WETLANDS IN THE WORLD were shown to the audience. Only certificates were presented to the winners and those eligible for certificates who were able to attend. The book prizes for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places together with those of the 7 consolation prize winners from each category would be dispatched by the Natural History Book Services, based in the UK.  Certificates for those who could not attend the ceremony would also be posted to them.  Preevena Devi Jayabalan was interviewed by Denise Cheah Su Lin of Wetlands international Malaysia  (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzQa8AAo4Rw) while Darlene Kawilarang, the second prize winner of the junior category was interviewed by George Regina Flora, also from Wetlands International, Malaysia, (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4GNIJCxJxw). A total of 76 entries was received; 22 in the senior category and 54 in the junior category. A total of 12 countries participated and they were Malaysia, Indonesia, India, The Maldives, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, Singapore, Sri Lanka, China, Jordan, and Nepal. Sekolah Menengah Sains Alam Shah wishes to express its thanks to Wetlands International for kindly consenting to collaborate on this competition.


Mr. Aidie Bin Jantan signs the visitors’ book before the ceremony


The VIPS in the front, from left Ms. Denise Cheah Su Lin, Wetlands International Malaysia, Mr. Aidie Bin Jantan, Mr. Roslie Bin Ahmad, and Mr. Cornelius Anuar Abdullah McAfee.


Presentation by the school Caklempong Band. The instruments are small brass gongs representing different notes, hit by wooden clubs. The origin of these instruments are from the Minangkabau District, Sumatra, Indonesia.


The principal’s welcome address

 
Mr. Cornelius Anuar Abdullah McAfee’s comments on the overall performance in the junior category.


Mr. Aidie’s closing speech

Darlene Kawilarang from Sekolah LentEra Indonesia, Jakarta, receives the 2nd prize in the junior category.


Preevena Devi Jayabalan, the 1st prize winner of the senior category being interviewed by the ASiS school annual editoriasl board.

Group photograph after the certificate presentation ceremony


Sample certificate awarded to winners and participants who qualified for certificates of participation.

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THE RESULTS – AIWC 2017

THE RESULTS – AIWC 2017

SENIOR CATEGORY

1st Prize
(1 copy of WATERWAYS AND WETLANDS: A PRACTICAL HANDBOOK by Elizabeth Agate & Alan Brooks, and a Distinguished Award Certificate)
Preevena Devi Jayabalan
SMK King George V, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.

2nd Prize
(1 copy of SHOREBIRDS IN ACTION by Richard Chandler, and a Distinguished Award Certificate)
Wang Jiayi
No 2 Middle School of Licheng District, Jinan, China.

3rd Prize
(1 copy of FROGS AND TOADS by Chris Mattison, and a Distinguished Award Certificate)
Nur Amizah Binti Abdul Manan
Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Syah, Ayer Keroh, Melaka, Malaysia

 

Consolation
(1 copy each of WETLAND BIRD SONGS & CALLS  by Hannu Jannes and Owen Roberts, and a Merit Award Certificate)

Gabriella Nicole Veda
Dian Harapan School Daan Mogot, Kota Jakarta Barat, Indonesia.

Atiya Rabbi
Dayawati Modi Academy, Modipur, Rampur, India

Muhammad Naufal Bin Mohd Zhamry
Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Tun Ghafar Baba, Jasin, Melaka, Malaysia

Fariha Ahmed
Holy Cross College, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Teoh Hon Kim
SMJK Yuk Choy, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Ahmad Amirul Ashraf Bin Abdul Rahim
Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Tun Abdul Razak, Pekan, Pahang, Malaysia

Rivisya Manickam
Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Syah, Ayer Keroh, Melaka, Malaysia

 

Certificate of Participation

Berliana Adjeng Hapsari
 1 Senior High School Salatiga, Semarang, Indonesia.

Cizal Gautam
SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, Pokhara, Nepal

Regis Irankunda
Byimana School of Sciences, Kigali, Rwanda

Siti Suhailah Binti Zahari
Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Syah, Ayer Keroh, Melaka, Malaysia

Ishimwe Murayi Marcellin
Byimana School of Sciences, Kigali, Rwanda

Muhammad Haekal Bin Fadzil Anuar
Sekolah Menengah Sains Alam Shah, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Byishimo Bertrand
Byimana School of Sciences, Kigali, Rwanda

Muhammad Khairy Anwar Bin Mohd Fariz
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

Jowen Lebaquin
West Visayas State University, La Paz, Iloilo City, Philippines

Ahmad Faris Durrani Bin Ahmad Shahrir
Kolej Yayasan UEM. Tanjung Malim, Perak, Malaysia

Muhammad Aiman Hafiz Bin Ahmad Akhir
Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Jempol, Batu Kikir, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

Muhammad Mursyidin Bin Suratman
Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Syah, Ayer Keroh, Melaka, Malaysia

 

 

JUNIOR CATEGORY

1st Prize
(1 copy of HERONS, EGRETS AND BITTERNS by Neil McKilligan and a Distinguished Award Certificate)
Anushka Phadke
Srimati Sulochanadevi Singhania School, Jekegram, Thane (West), Maharashtra, India

2nd Prize
(1 copy of WATCHING WATERBIRDS with Kate Humble & Martin McGill and a Distinguished Award Certificate)
Darlene Kawilarang
Sekolah LentEra Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

3rd Prize
(1 copy of FROGS AND TOADS by Sally Morgan and a Distinguished Award Certificate)
Sarvagya Bhatnagar
Indian national studying at DPS International School, Singapore.

 

Consolation
(1 copy each of GUIDE TO WETLAND BIRDS by Doug Hulyer and Phil Shepherd,
and a Merit Award Certificate)

Richelle YuXian Khor
SMK Seafield, Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Vithra Deventhiran
Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Syah, Ayer Keroh,  Melaka,  Malaysia.

Tengku Nur Iffah Adriana Binti Tengku Norazlan
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

Ariana Jewel Enriquez
Pilar College of Zamboanga City, Philippines.

Wilson Chee
Sekolah Menengah Sains Tuanku Munawir, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

Jonathan Tanuwihhardja
Sekolah LentEra Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

Ranishah Sanmugam
Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Syah, Ayer Keroh,Melaka, Malaysia.

 

Certificate of Participation

Aishath Areeka Ahmed
Aminiya School, Chandanee Magu, Male, Maldives

Kabeer Lakhani
Generation’s School South Campus, Karachi, Pakistan

Nirnayak Talukdar
Maharishi Vidya Mandir-Guhawati 4, Assam, India

Summaiya Qureshi
Ch .Chhabil Dass Public School, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Sophiya Karmila Binti Saikri
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

Qolunwarsyan Bin Hussin
Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Batu Rakit, Terengganu, Malaysia

Lean Rosendo
Zambales National High School, Iba, Zambales, Philippines

Ain Khaliesha Binti Saifol
Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Syah, Ayer Keroh, Melaka, Malaysia

Muhammad Aiman Shafiq Bin Saidi
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

Muhammad Amsyar Bin Che Mohd Sabri
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

Mark Russell Caranzo
Philippine Science High School, Eastern Visayas Campus, Leyte, Philippines

Adriana Maisarah Binti Azhar
Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Syah, Ayer Keroh, Melaka, Malaysia

Nur Hana Fareeha Binti Abdul Halim
Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Syah, Ayer Keroh, Melaka, Malaysia

Adam Luqman Bin Mohd Anuwar
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

Nurshazreena Binti Mohd Shis
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

Thaasmitha Ganeson
SMK Taman Desa 2, Bandar Country Homes, Rawang, Selangor, Malaysia

Nur Alia Masyitah Binti Azmadi
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

Nur Ayuni Akhmal Binti Mohd Ridzwan
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

Wan Syaidafatnin Izaz Binti Wan Sarmizi
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

Nur Hanis Faqihah Binti Mohd Anuar
Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia

NOTE
Certificates of participation in both categories are awarded only to entries which have achieved a minimum standard set by the organizing committee

 

THE  PANEL OF JUDGES

SENIOR CATEGORY

Chief Judge

Mr. Fortino Acosta Moreno
Wetlands consultant and CEO of Nosotros Tierra
Mexico City
MEXICO

He coordinates and designs projects including basins management, urban regeneration and artificial wetlands in the Americas. He also holds teaching positions.

 

Dr. Puan Chong Leong
Faculty of Forestry
Universti Putra Malaysia
Serdang, Selangor,
MALAYSIA

His speciality is night birds, specifically owls but has also vast experience in surveying wildlife habitats in Malaysia, including wetlands.

 

Dr. Noelle Aarts
Professor of Communication and Change in Life Sciences
Wageningen University
Wageningen
THE NETHERLANDS

Focusing on conversations between people, she studies inter-human processes and communication for creating space for change, both in governmental organisations, in NGOs, and in commercial companies. She has published on several topics such as communication of organisations with their environment, conflict and negotiation in the domain of nature policies and land use.

 

JUNIOR CATEGORY

Chief Judge

Mr. Cornelius Anuar Abdullah McAfee
Director
International Centre
Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Gong Badak Campus,
Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
MALAYSIA

A Canadian national and an active member of the Malaysian Nature Society with many years of field experience in ornitholgy and wildlife habitats, including wetlands. Also teaches English at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA). His book BIRDS OF TERENGGANU, which includes the common and most frequently seen birds in Terengganu was published this year by UniSZA and The Sultan Mizan Royal Foundation.

 

Dr. R. Suresh Kumar
Department of Endangered Species Management
Wildlife Institute of India
Dehra Dun
INDIA

He specializes in biodiversity, conservation biology, ecology, and evolution. Has untertaken studies on Olive ridley turtles to study their migration. Was also part of an Indian scientific expedition to Antarctica in 2009 and carried out aerial surveys on marine mammals and birds there.

 

Ms Brinda Dubey
Secretary of Tiger Haven Society,
Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA

A very committed naturalist, helping to create awareness of conservation wildlife and wildlife habitats in India through education. Tiger Haven Society was formed by her uncle the late Billy Arjan Singh who also initiated the establishment of Dudhwa National Park.

 

 

 

THE  TOP THREE ESSAYS
SENIOR CATEGORY

FIRST PRIZE

Preevena Devi Jayabalan
SMK King George V, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.

My home’s getting frosty now. Me, my family and our whole tribe are forced to evacuate. It’s not something new to be talked about. It happens every year. Dad told me that we are going far away from a seasonal monster. When that monster comes about…we will have nothing left. Our food supply will be gone. Everything will be cloaked with a white blanket. It’s quite a scary thought. We are going to some kind of place. Mom said it’s a very far place. She told me the name of it but I couldn’t quite remember it. Let me recall! My friends, Terry and Mikey are so excited for the trip. They think it’s a joy ride. Perhaps someone should knock some sense into their heads. Oh wait! I just remembered. We’re going to Malaysia. I made a few friends on our trip there last year. I’m really excited to see them again. We had such a great time together. Let’s start our journey to our “vacation villa”!

This may seem like a totally whipped up fictitious spin off but it’s an insight on bird migration because many would come up with big questions on it. The doubts on bird migration has amplified curiosity. Well the process of bird migration is quite simple. No…it’s not as simple as packing your bags and leaving for your next flight but yes…it’s as simple as packing your bags and walking all the way to China if only you know what I meant.

I think that bird migration is a very crucial topic to be discussed. Just exactly, how is the process of bird migration? Well, bird migration is usually driven by the scarcity of food, weather or habitat issues. It’s a continual process. An abundant amount of bird migration eventuates with the birds starting off in a capacious front. Usually, this front constricts into flyways. These routes customarily follow mountain ranges or coastlines, sometimes rivers and may take advantage of updrafts and other wind patterns, avoiding topographical barriers. The specific routes of bird migration… surprisingly could be intrinsically programmed or even learned to varying degrees. The routes upon migration and returning back varies. Many birds migrate in flocks and they fly at fluctuating eminences.

My country…Malaysia is a hub for different species of water birds to breed and “visit” temporarily. Amongst the most significant of them all is the Ruddy Kingfisher or the Halcyon coromanda. It is quite easily spotted despite having an approximate height of 25 cm. That’s because it has a very large bright red bill with pint-sized legs. It is found mostly in the Kuala Selangor Nature Park during the winter as it’s a migratory bird and it’s quite a star in the park due to its cuteness (at least, to me). The ruddy kingfisher reminds me of the Woody Woodpecker due to its catchy name. They feed on fish, crustaceans and large insects. Sometimes, they even feed on frogs and other amphibians in areas with less running water. In contrary to its pint-sized figure…it’s totally high, descending call is quite distinct. Well that’s one tough guy out there!

The next unique water bird species in Malaysia is the Chinese Egret or the Egretta eulophotes. It’s a migratory bird and it usually winters in Buntal Bay, Sarawak. Its breeding grounds are on small islands off the littorals of far eastern Russia, North and South Korea and mainland China. With an average height of 68 cm and a white plumage, it’s quite easy to spot this bird. Between one third and a half of the world’s population winter in Malaysia which makes our country a hot spot for avid bird watchers out there. The Chinese Egret feeds on fish, shrimps, crabs and insects. Despite being dubbed as a free-spirited bird, the Chinese egret is under the vulnerable category under the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It’s quite a sad fate for a majestic bird.

Malaysia has a major flyway which is the North Central Selangor Coast (NCSC). It protracts from the mouth of Bernam River to the Klang River and the Klang Islands spanning a distance of over 100 km. This makes the Kuala Selangor Nature Park a main staging site of my country with a total area of 2.4 km².

Another flyway which is in my region is the East Asian- Australasian Flyway which spans within the Arctic Circle, through East and Southeast Asia and to Australia and New Zealand. It stretches across 22 countries involving the migration of 50 million migratory water birds and waders. Amongst the most significant waders involved are the Marsh Sandpiper and the Oriental Pratincole. For this flyway, the major staging sites involved are the tidal flats of the Yellow Sea in China and the Hunter Estuary in Australia.

The Yellow Sea hosts about 36 bird species where 2 of them are classified as globally threatened and another 2 are nearly threatened. The Yellow Sea is a partially encased shallow sea with pervasive inter-tidal areas. It is located between the Korean Peninsula in the east and China to the west.

On the other hand, under the Ramsar Convention, around 30 km² of the Hunter Estuary have been recognized as having international importance by appellation making it known as Ramsar site 287 and a larger portion of the wetlands has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International. It’s located at and near the aperture of the Hunter River in the megalopolis of Newcastle, Australia.

Picture this headline in the newspapers in the years to come; “Birds Refusal to Migrate to Country X Erupts Chaos Nationwide”. It could seem humorous but why do you think, in the right state of mind, would birds avoid migration to the country? The answer could be as simple as saying ABC’s. But did you know that when we were young, even saying ABC’s were difficult? They required a lot of effort.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction says the Newton’s Third Law. But, in this case, biologically, every action has a lot of circumstances and it may lead to the extinction of species. Well, that could be the Biology’s Third Law for now (just kidding). Coming back to my question; To me, this could be just because they are facing the loss of their habitats of their staging sites. There are 2 things to be paid attention to. Rudimentarily, a humorous one; It’s not the act of other predators monopolizing their habitats just like we see in cartoons. The second, a sad one; Humans now behave like animals. I have no intention to criticize but humans are literally responsible for the destruction of the habitats of these birds. As we all know, habitats serve as staging sites and some of them are the breeding and non-breeding grounds of the birds. However, the big question is why is it important to protect the habitats of the birds?

To answer that question, picture this scenario; you losing your home to a bunch of animals! Not funny but if you were to come across that situation, wouldn’t you feel that your rights were taken away? The same thing goes for birds. It is their rights to have their own homes.

Let’s delve deeper into this. Habitats are meant for the birds to live in. This means that humans could watch them from the comforts of their environment without disturbing them. Logically, without these habitats, how are we going to see these birds? How are we going to answer our children on the whereabouts of the birds? I’m trying not to be sarcastic but maybe we could just teach them about birds the same way we teach them about dinosaurs. We’ve had enough losses so, let the birds live in their own habitats. We don’t have to trade in their habitats for modernization. That’s just savage.

This will give rise to various impacts on the ecotourism of many countries. No habitats mean no birds, no birds mean no tourists and no tourists mean no money. That’s a simple concept to follow. The biodiversity of the ecosystem will be affected but another significant issue here is that without habitats, where is our oxygen supply? Don’t tell me that in the years to come, we will be using oxygen tanks! The habitats supply us oxygen and how are we going to survive without a basic need? The habitats of the birds are also the habitats of other animals too. So, where would they go? We should take all of this in cogitation before we act.

In a nutshell, not only the habitats, but the birds and their flyway routes should be protected not destroyed. Remember this; we are humans. If we carry on with this, we could be even worse than animals. Have some love and peace because not everything can be achieved using power and destruction. Spread tranquility and beyond to the environment, most importantly to the birds. Fly birdies! Soar high up in the sky! Freedom’s yours!

Citations and References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_migration
http://www.environmentalscience.org/birds-ecosystem-services
http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/PDF/pub07_waterbirds_part5.2.3.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_Estuary_Wetlands
file:///C:/Users/preevena/Downloads/1_Prietto_-_East_Australasian_Flyway_Partnership.pdf
http://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/programme-additional-info/migratory-birds-and-flyways
http://www.birdlife.org/sites/default/files/attachments/8_East_Asia_Australasia_Factsheet.pdf
http://mnswetland.w(ff, ff)eebly.com/flyway.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_egret
https://wetlandinfo.ehp.qld.gov.au/wetlands/ecology/components/fauna/birds/eaa-flyway.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuala_Selangor_Nature_Park

Judges’ comments
Interesting and original essay. Well balanced ideas and very illustrative. Reflection is shown across the text. Highly original writing style, seems to be a great storyteller.

 

 

SECOND PRIZE

Wang Jiayi
No 2 Middle School of Licheng District, Jinan, China.

What Our Wetlands Have Taught Us

Formed as the Yellow River changed its courses and deposited loess and silt along its banks, the world’s youngest estuarine wetland, the Shandong Yellow River Delta Wetland (SYRDW), combines two separate swamps within the Shandong Yellow River Delta National Nature Reserve (1992-;153,000 ha), with the northern swamp (14,173.2 ha) fed by the Yellow River between 1855 and 1976, and the southern marsh (81,776.7 ha) embracing the present-day Yellow River until it empties into the Bóhǎi Sea (Liu, Chen, & Cui, 2012). Characterized by a rich variety of species, a wide range of habitats and complicated species interactions, the low-lying wetland now thrives as a paradise for a wealth of threatened wildlife. Before the nature reserve was set up, however, the wetland had suffered from heavy habitat loss and destruction. Such lessons from history teach us to minimize disturbance in wetland biodiversity conservation.

A vast number of organisms belonging to hundreds of plant and animal species live in the SYRDW. According to Liu, Chen, & Cui (2012), 393 plant species, 197 fish species, 26 mammal species, 6 amphibian species, 10 reptile species and 367 bird species find food and shelter in the swamps. These include a host of endangered species, such as wild soybeans (Glycine soja), leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), Asian leopard cats (Felis bengalensis), Yangtze sturgeons (Acipenser dabryanus), Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius), roughskin sculpins (Trachidermus fasciatus), Indo-Pacific finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides), oriental storks (Ciconia boyciana) and red-crowned cranes (Grus japonensis). As a globally threatened species with an estimated population of 1000-2499, the oriental stork is recorded to have hatched 741 chicks in the wetland between 2003 and early 2017 (Oriental stork, 2017). Furthermore, the SYRDW is a crucial staging site for birds migrating along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, providing vital habitat corridor for their migration, wintering and/or breeding. The number of bird species in the wetland has increased from 181 in 1992 to 368 in 2017. Now over 6 million birds winter, breed and live here (Bian, 2017). Such richness in species is first of all based on the wetland’s multiple habitats.

Highly diverse habitats in the SYRDW contribute to a wide diversity of wildlife. There is a variety of habitats in the wetland and each has its own characteristic species. The aquatic habitats, including the estuarine waters, delta and permanent rivers, ponds and drainage channels, are home to water plant species, such as phytoplankton, sea weeds and pond weeds, and water animals, such as shrimps and fish, which in turn attract a great number of bird species, such as geese, ducks, gulls, herons, swans and cranes. Adjacent to the waters are inter-tidal mudflats, which are rich in saline seepweeds (Suaeda salsa), crabs, and other benthic organisms, all food sources regularly sought by a myriad of waterfowl. In relatively dry freshwater swamp areas, reeds predominate, providing food and shelter for invertebrate species such as snails, insects and beetles, which in turn are desirable food not only to warblers and other carnivorous birds, but also to reptiles and mammals. Still drier marsh areas are home to widespread sedge, sporadic scrubs, normally Chinese tamarisks (Tamarix chinensis), and scanty trees, either black locusts (Robinia pseudoacacia) or Chinese willows (Salix matsudana), providing congenial habitats for yet other distinctive groups of animals, such as hares and pheasants. Because the wetland has such a range of habitats, it has become one of the most biologically diverse places. In addition, manifold types of species interactions in the food webs enhance biodiversity as well.

Multitudes of coexisting species are closely linked to one another in the intricate wetland food webs. The wetland plants, such as phytoplankton, sedge and reeds, use energy from the sun to survive through photosynthesis. They form the basis of the aquatic and terrestrial food webs by serving as food for wetland herbivores, for instance, turtles, hares, geese, grasshoppers and moths, which in turn provide food for carnivores, such as spiders, owls, scorpions, leopard cats and herons. Only in this way can wetland carnivores regulate the number of its herbivores so that their favorite plant species will not go extinct. Meanwhile, dead and decaying material provide food for the detritivores, such as millipedes, fiddler crabs, sea cucumbers, earthworms and woodlice. Thus different species inhabiting the SYRDW are interdependent of each other in sustaining biodiversity.

Apart from the food webs, succession also helps the wetland optimize its functioning and sustain greater biodiversity. A particular example of primary succession here starts with saline seepweeds, a pioneer plant dominating the tidal flats. Once a new piece of land is pulled out of the sea, the reddish saline seepweeds will spring from the water-logged soil, ahead of all other terrestrial plants. The year-long bond of the flame-colored saline seepweeds with the new land seems to highlight a therophyte life devoted to salt removal from the newly-emerged land and leaving it ready for reeds and other vegetation to take over and flourish. Reed beds and sedge fields will then provide food and shelter for hundreds of wetland animal species: insects, mammals, birds, amphibians and fish. The more vegetation and animals, the better and stronger the soils become-less prone to erosion, drought, and flooding.   

Over the surface of the wetland, great biodiversity orchestrates splendid views throughout the year. Tender spring brings millions of new lives; lush summer bursts with intense vigor; serene autumn exhibits picturesque depths of varied life journeys; wintry land meets the sea in solemn grandeur. Birds of different species fly into the landscape at distinct times. Nevertheless there are always flocks and flocks of them frolicking, foraging and fishing on the inter-tidal areas, over the estuarine waters, enlivening the places at any time of year. Whichever way you look, beauty greets your eyes. Beneath the surface, however, “there’s always another story. There’s more than meets the eye” (Auden, n.d.). Here it is the wetland and biodiversity conservation.

For a considerable length of time in history, the SYRDW was abused and the threat of its biodiversity loss was ignored. Since the 1950s, large areas of grasses, scrubs and woods had been removed and the marsh had been drained to grow crops. In the 1960s, one of the biggest national oil fields had started its reckless exploitation of the wetland’s rich petroleum deposits, leaving wider areas disturbed by drainage and pollution. To make things worse, drought and water crisis at the upper reaches of the Yellow River had begun to cause insufficient water replenishment in the wetland. And on top of that, accelerated urbanization and development had exacerbated water shortage and pollution at the delta since the mid-1980s. The result was a rapidly shrinking and deteriorating wetland with vast tracts of salinized land, too dry and too brackish to be suitable even for seepweeds, and a wide range of damaged habitats, with a meager number of wildlife species and individuals. Many species either disappeared or dwindled greatly.

Thanks to the government’s sustainable development strategies which close development policy loopholes and integrate environmental values and services of the wetlands, effort has begun to restore the wetland and protect its biodiversity since the mid-1990s. The Yellow River Delta Nature Reserve was founded. An accountability system was established to hold individuals and officials accountable for damaging or destroying wetlands. Modest measures were taken to engage people in wetland conservation. Water management projects were implemented to prevent the Yellow River from drying up. The oil field improved their technology and minimized pollution in production. So far most restoration schemes work well. The wetland is free of human interference now, except for the rhythmically nodding pumping units on the mudflats. Vegetation is back. Then birds are back. Unsurprisingly, the SYRDW was designated as a Ramsar Site in 2013.

Nevertheless, conservation of biodiversity is an enduring task for this generation, and many generations to come. The awareness of biodiversity conservation must be taught to children as early as possible. Schools should include to their classroom curricula wetland values and biodiversity field trips. Indeed, as the next generation of decision makers, we must get educated about lessons learned in history. We must learn about the many services a well-conserved wetland delivers to us. And so many of these benefits can be studied on site: buffering the shore lines from the pounding of stormy waves; protecting against seawater erosion; absorbing extreme rainfall; purifying and storing water; supporting plant and animal life as well as human livelihoods; providing food, water and breeding places for migratory birds; providing resources for scientific research and medicine development; mitigating extreme weather events and storing carbon to combat climate change worldwide. Indeed, like the biologically diverse SYRDW, every healthy wetland is a trinity of teacher, school and textbook on biodiversity conservation. The sooner we learn from it, the better we shall become in conserving every wetland in terms of its biodiversity.

References

Auden, W. H. (n.d.). In Goodreads. Retrieved from
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/526467-there-s-always-another-story-t
here-s-more-than-meets-the-eye

Bian, M. (2017, June 15). Huánghé sānjiǎozhōu měinián xīnshēng shīdì                 liǎngwànmǔ, shēngtài gōngnéng búduàn xiūfù (The Yellow River Delta Wetland Area Increases at an Annual Rate of 13.33 km2, with Its Ecological      Functioning Recovering Well). People’s Daily. Retrieved from    http://news.k618.cn/society/shwx/201606/t20160615_7731122_1.html

Liu, Y., Chen, K. & Cui, B. (Compilers.) (2012). Information sheet on Ramsar wetlands (RIS)-2009-2014 version [PDF document]. Retrieved from
https://rsis.ramsar.org/RISapp/files/RISrep/CN2187RIS.pdf

Mader, S. & Windelspech, M. (2015). Biology. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill            Education Oriental stork. (2017). In Birdlife international. Retrieved from
http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/22697695

Judges’ comments
Relevant information and wide vocabulary used. Well informed, meaningful and very formal essay. Well written, very interesting and relevant story

 

 

THIRD PRIZE

Nur Amizah Binti Abdul Manan
Sekolah Menengah Sains Muzaffar Syah, Ayer Keroh, Melaka, Malaysia

“The Fundamental of Wetlands For Life”

In this era of rapid development, the once essential wetland has now become such insignificant thing to almost everyone. More dismal, some do not even know what are wetlands although in the actual, they always pass by the inestimable wetlands whether when they are on rides or just simply walking.People nowadays are more focused on the increment of amenities for better living until they forgot about the treasure that our earth owns and is meant to be kept, which is the nature or if we make it more specific, the wetlands. In order to describe wetland in words, it is defined as all the divergent kinds of wet habitats, signifying that it is land which is permanently wet or is only wet for some periods of time. Almost all countries possess wetlands and the instances of wetlands consist of lakes, bogs, shallow seas, lagoons, coral reefs, deltas, swamps, ponds, mudflats, estuaries and marshes too.

Wetlands are indeed very important to not only animals and plants but also to humans. It is just us humans who do not grasp the importance that is brought by wetlands.One of the main priorities is that wetlands play a big role as our water resources. As for example, Nigeria is a country amply with both coastal and inland wetlands. The wetlands altogether cover about 3% land surface of the country. The major wetland in Nigeria is Lake Chad. In addition, Nigerians really rely on wetlands for their water resources due to lack of hygienic water resources for their daily purposes. Even if the countries have abundance of clean water, wetlands still are one of the significant water resources. Nevertheless, wetlands in Nigeria are presently being exposed to anthropogenic and biogeophysical elements such as population strain, industrial waste pollution, overgrazing and also droughts. These caused the country of Nigeria to be short in clean water. Based on this occurrence, it has shown to us that there is the need to preserve our own local wetlands for the future.

Pantanal Wetlands in Brazil also work as the dominant water resources. The Pantanal covers an area of 66100 square miles and it actually covers parts of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. Such an enormous space included, right? Moreover, the name ‘ Pantanal ‘ came from Portugese word which brings the meaning of wetland, bog, swamp or marsh. The name suits it. Pantanal Wetlands are also central of 3500 species of plants and 1200 species of animals. There are a plenty of rare animals which can be found there like marsh deers, lowland tapirs, hyacinth macaws, Pantanal jaguar, giant river otter, crowned solitary eagle, maned wolf, bush dog, yacare caiman and capybaras. With that fact, it gives a clear picture on us how big is the role of Pantanal Wetlands is holding. The plants and the animals definitely depend on the wetlands as their sources of water. But sadly, Pantanal Wetlands are jeopardized by expandation of human settlements, unsustainable farming practices, commercial fishing,cattle-ranching, hunting, poaching and smuggling of endangered species of wild cats, parrots and reptiles, illegal mining, hydroelectric power plant construction and also unregulated tourism. Someone has to take actions in stopping all of those things from destroying the best kept secret of Brazil, Pantanal Wetlands so that bad conditions which possibly will take place in the country due to the neglected wetlands can be avoided.

As wetlands are crucial for water resources, wetlands are likewise important for biodiversity. As in general, they curtail storm damage and flooding, recharge groundwater and cultivate good quality of water in rivers too. For example, wetlands in Australia play a key role in supporting thebiodiversity in that country. The biodiversity of wetlands in Australia is exclusive, ranging from waterbirdsthat fly thousands of kilometres from one country to another country which is far away and also robust plants which have adapted to the highly variable drying and wetting cycles of the landscape of Australia. The wetlands promote purified water, acting as spawning and nursery sites for fish and also offer a stronghold for fauna in times of drought in Australia. However, irresponsible human activities have contributed to making run-down wetlands. Invasive species are also one of the causes. Consequently, the capacity of wetlands to continue supporting biodiversity is undermined, as well as decreasing the resilience of wetlands to respond to ongoing menaces and pressures. The population of Australian’s waterbirds is also affected. So, we must coalesce and together prevent our country’s wetlands from getting any worse.

Apart from that, the country of Malaysia also has a bountiful of wetlands thanks to its damp and hot throughout the year climate. Paya Indah, Kuching, Putrajaya and Kota Kinabalu are a few examples of locations which have many types of wetlands. Swamps and rivers constitute the main wetlands ecosystem found  in Malaysia. Swamps in Malaysia are very important grounds for biodiversity. Although those swamps are not as diverse as the wetlands in Amazon, they are still far-reaching because they home a lot of endangered floras and faunas such as Dipterocarps, Shoreaalbida, strangler figs, Malayan tapirs, clouded leopards, Asian elephants, Sumatran rhinoceroses and many more to mention. When talking about swamps, the main plant to be there must be the mangroves. As we all know, mangrove unique roots aid in holding soil against storms thus protecting other miniature plants from being destroyed by the storm. Assuming that the wetland is not being kept nicely, the biodiversity must have been stirred with most of the  plants died later caused the animals to lose their sources of food. The animals too will eventually died from starving. From this incident too, it has been clearly told that wetlands are truly important in our lives.

Not to forget, wetlands also function as indicators of climatic change. A climatic change will inexorably include sea level rise, water temperature and hydrologic changes either flood or drought. Wetlands may be negatively impacted from changed rainfall patterns. Water quality can be deteriorated as more pollutants will come in during floods or accrue if the water runs drier. Meanwhile, heightened water temperature will be associated with lower dissolved oxygen concentration and increased mineralization of organic substances. Natural ‘ filters ‘ such as ice cover in cold lakes or rivers in Mediterranean can become less productive which will lead to more invasive species into the wetland. For instance, earlier spring snowmelt in northern Alaska has been an indicator of climate change. The icy wetlands there have turned into non-icy wetlands. The melting of ice in northern Alaska has been advanced by 8 days. The changes of the wetlands have indicated the climate change not only in northern Alaska but also in Arctic. Based on these, all of us have to retain the wetlands of our own country so that we can be given the ‘early warning’ of the climatic change by the wetlands, hence, we can prevent the causes of the climatic change.

When talking about the effective ways to save the wetlands of our countries, there are scads of actions which can be done for saving the wetlands. One of the actions is by establishing vegetative bufferor known as greenbelt around the wetlands. Establishing a greenbelt involves planting trees, ceasing the use of fertilizers and pesticides and also cutting selected vegetation only. The greenbelt delivers a visual and noise barrier to the interior of the wetlands, which is profitable to wildlife around the wetlands that is sensitive to human disturbance. Greenbelt serves as the protective pathway between different wetlands too.  Aside from that, saving water can also be helpful in protecting the wetlands because it can reduce the volume of water going through sewage treatment plants which can cause the water of the wetlands to lose its purity.

In denouement, we must try hard to preserve our wetlands in this country in order for it to not turn into ‘concrete lands’ . It is not only the governments who play the huge role in the effort but so do we. We must work for our efforts in keeping wetlands by that the efforts are fruitful. We too should keep in our minds that wetlands are very far from being waste lands because wetlands are literally the heart of our nation which circulate from one end to another end beneficially.

Judges’ comments
The essay gives you a global panorama about wetlands.  Good vocabulary. However ideas can be better organized.  Great story. Well written.

 

 

THE  TOP THREE ESSAYS
JUNIOR CATEGORY

FIRST PRIZE

Anushka Phadke
Srimati Sulochanadevi Singhania School, Jekegram, Thane (West), Maharashtra, India

Our land is a composition of many diverse soils mingled together to form the Earth. Soil is considered as our Mother,our nurturer and our strength.We have numerous resources in this beautiful world which cannot be valued in pieces of gold and silver.These resources are precious to us because they are the lifeblood of our existence and are the only threads which keep the perils of extinction at bay.Our green friends feed us,clotheus,and what do we do in return for their bestowed gifts?We ruthlessly waste and misuse them without a shred of care to replenish them .One such invaluable resource which is clinging onto the verge of exhaustion but is often neglected, is land;More precisely,Wetlands.

Many people boast and brag of how they create awareness about saving trees,water,electricity and many more elements, but I have not come across anyone so far,discussing the issues related to wetlands which are being faced by the world. I think people are not aware of the vast dangers of this crisis and are neglecting this problem,thinking it to be of minor importance.But it is sadly not the case and it is high time man harnesses the mare of environmental dangers before it gallops too far.

Wetlands are lands saturated with water consisting of marshes and swamps with soils rich in certain minerals and compounds.It houses many aquatic flora and fauna,adapted to its hydraticsoils. They provide a verdant and well-greened scene with mangroves and shrubs with dark foliage statured in their moist loams. Though not to be called a ‘king’s glen’, wetlands have benefits which prove them to be of importance across the globe.Close study of this marvellous feature of land will sink us deeper into its crevices revealing many unknown facts.Wetlands are of great help when it comes to flood controlling, groundwater restoration , water purification and shoreline stabilization.The moist , loamy and clayey soil holds its ground when other sands loose away with the waves of floods. They provide as a barrier for the inner areas of residence, which would be left open for calamities like such, to play with if not for the wetlands.Wetlands have also become a tourism attraction, therefore they help to boost the economic charts too. Wetlands have many uses to offer but man is interested in abusing the privileges which is drawing us fast towards inevitable land crisis.

Wetlands are the helpless victims of land drainage for real estate development and flooding for recreational lakes alongwith other harassments man is burdening them with.Wetlands are the sufferers of man’s lust and greed to wield all the possible powers and gifts in the world while he finds more ways through the medium of technology to exhort and exploit the priceless elemental wonders like wetlands and scores of other resources in tow. Man is turning a deaf ear to the knell nature is ringing to warn us that the end of our race will not be long in meeting us if we continue to misuse and waste belongings of Earth. We must remove the blindfolds which materialistic fineries of life have put on our senses and raise awareness against wrong practices concerning environment which are at large.

I would like to express my genuine feelings through a verse which shaped up in my mind…

A time will come soon my brethren,
But it will be too late by then,
When clouds will spit smoke
And in misery will we all soak
Lands will be parched by fire,
Man will be in need dire,

Of resources he drained in haste

Of moist lands and sweet bubbling rivers
Instead he will get ruins and sewers
Awake my people!
Stop abusing the place where we dwell,
For, it would not be long before,
This very place, turns into hell!!!

Let us all solemnly pledge to work as one, linking hands to put an end to the troublesome troubles of man.

Judges’ comments
This essay sends a strong message about not only the importance of wetlands to our survival, but also about the beauty and diversity found in wetlands. A captivating introduction, with well-developed ideas throughout, this entry used diverse yet suitable vocabulary, adding strong support for the ideas presented. The closing poem added strength to the submission, summarising the fate of our environment, especially wetlands, if nothing is done to protect them.

 

 

SECOND PRIZE

Darlene Kawilarang
Sekolah LentEra Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

Mangrove: My Favorite Type of Wetland

Have you always wanted to boost your account on social media? If your answer is yes, try taking pictures in the green scenery of the mangrove vegetations in Pantai Indah Kapuk, Jakarta.
“But wait,” you might ask, “why mangroves? Seriously?”

The aesthetic scenery is calming—with the soothing wind blowing and the shade of vibrant-colored umbrellas sheltering visitors from the sunshine—making it perfect for photo-taking. To add to that, the mangrove vegetations help raise awareness of the importance of mangroves. When schools hold field trips in the place, for example, students will engage in mangrove planting activities. This will help them be more mindful of the conditions of mangroves.

We need to know what mangroves are, first. Mangrove forests are wetland ecosystems in coastal areas. The forest consists of trees that can live in environments containing high salinity (amount of salts dissolved in water). Mangroves do not grow on beaches with strong tidal currents as this prevents the removal of mud from sand.

These forests are of great benefit to humans because they protect shorelines from storms, hurricane winds, waves, and floods. They help prevent erosion by stabilizing sediments with their tangled root systems, maintain water quality and filter out pollution. Plus, mangroves store higher carbon levels compared to other types of ecosystems.
In total, scientists have estimated that a mangrove forest is worth $194,000 per hectare.

Mangroves also offer many opportunities for recreational activities (as with the mangrove vegetations in Jakarta), such as walking, boating, birdwatching, and, of course, taking photos. The presence of fascinating life forms makes mangrove forests enchanting to visit.

Looking at the many benefits of these ecosystems, these things explain why the mangrove forests native to my country, Indonesia, are my favorite type of wetland.

Sadly, the lives of mangroves are on the decline. Analyzing high-resolution satellite imagery, researchers in UK and Singapore universities concluded that the world has lost over one-third of its mangroves (with 16 species living in mangrove ecosystems threatened with extinction) since the 1980s and 1990s. Southeast Asian countries, especially Myanmar, Sumatra, Indonesian Borneo, and Malaysia have the highest rates of mangrove deforestation in the world, owing to the increasing demand in the aquaculture, rice and palm oil industries.

The only way to stop mangrove vegetations from further destruction is to do the exact opposite of what humans are doing to the ecosystems – reforestation. Organizations such as Rainforest Rescue and Journey Nicaragua have planted over 300,000 mangrove trees in the course of 5 years. Mangrove.org developed their own REM Mangrove Reforestation Technology, which has drastically improved the ability to halt ecological degradation, promote sustainable development and increase biodiversity.

If we stop destroying these ecosystems, it would greatly help in the decades-long fight against climate change.
If Indonesia—having lost over 50% of their mangroves since the 1980s and ranking 12th in the world’s global emissions—halts mangrove deforestation, it could reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions up to 31%.

Personally, I hope that more green-scenery mangrove forests like the one in Pantai Indah Kapuk will appear more in Indonesia, which can potentially raise awareness in the younger generation for the environment and nature. Taking small steps from a young age will make a big difference in the future. No matter how small planting in the mangrove vegetations might seem—if millions of young children nurture the vegetations, it will make their future a brighter and greener one.

Eventually, nature teaches us that everything has a purpose, including mangroves. Before we destroy these ecosystems (and nature altogether), we need to realize its importance and prevent human actions from disrupting harmony in nature.

In the meantime, take awesome pictures at the mangrove vegetations. You’re going to need these #bomb #greenery pictures for your Instagram account. It’ll make your feed look amazing. Don’t forget to tag @mangrovepik. Let’s all join together to save the planet for a better future.

Judges’ comments
This second place entry focused on describing the esthetic beauty of wetlands, together with the important environmental function wetlands play in our ecosystem. In addition to looking at them as places that should remain untouched, the author invites us to visit wetlands, to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of them. Social media, an important aspect of youth today, is also creatively incorporated where readers are encouraged to post online to share the beauty, and support the protection of our wetlands.

 

 

THIRD PRIZE

Sarvagya Bhatnagar
Indian national studying at DPS International School, Singapore.

‘Wetlands for a Cause: The Oasis of Life’

An increasingly quantitative section of our population fail to realize the importance of Nature’s outstretched, protective arms.In the city of my residence, we are constantly benefitting from wetlands (such as coastlines),economically as well as socially. However, the positive and efficacious nature of the benefits that we reap from wetlands is often overlooked.

Wetlands are extremely important for a country’s successful development. These versatile lands sustain lifestyles and growth, through various means. Without us even pondering about it, wetlands provide us with sufficient pasturage, as well as recreational amenities that would inevitably lead to economic and beneficial progress for the country and their people.  When it comes to agriculture, wetlands are able to sustain forestry for a significant period of time. This automatically causes an increased harvest. However, once it comes to tourism, these same wetland type serve another of their purpose in attracting tourists for recreational amenities as well as for leisure opportunities. Some examples of these are fishing, kayaking and camping, including natural-devotees and botanists immersed in studying and relishing their surroundings and natural environment.

Different types of wetlands serve different purposes. Wetlands are extremely significant in improving water quality, ridding it off pollutants in the process. This is made possible by the simple process of trapping sediments from the unfiltered water. The same wetlands reduce the risk of floodwaters. Most importantly, these wetlands also provide a natural habitat for a variety of species of birds that play a major role in regulating crop-eating insects and pests.

Some type of wetlands also bear a rich historical connotation. As proven by many different circumstances, it has been observed that development is nearly impossible without the significance of wetlands. With the existence of wetlands, we are provided with a surplus of agricultural products as well as a habitat erupting with exotic species of animals. Along with this, wetlands are highly significant for ridding the air off their pollutants by the absorption of carbon dioxide and other pernicious greenhouse gases.

Not surprisingly, wetlands are also significant for their rich wildlife. They are home to many divergent and alluring flowers, herbs, fish as well as birds. Hand in hand with the burgeoning wildlife, is the bizarre supply of trees ranging from “River red gums” to shrubs such as “Lignum”. Most importantly, wetlands strive to carry out their duties for Mother Nature, and protect the inland population from the brunt of storms and natural calamities.

Despite all these features that Wetlands possess to benefit us in dimensions of facets and forms, we inevitably tread in a vicious cycle to pursue what we believe would best benefit us – that would inescapably lead to the near complete, if not complete, annihilation of Mother Nature. Development and technological advancement – leading to urbanization and further deforestation has already taken a step too far against these natural lowlands and bogs. Urbanization has also led to a direct degradation and pollution of wetlands – via different chemical compositions and disturbances introduced to our protective natural havens.

So why are we alienating such an important asset and guardian to face the storms of Nature as well the hostile effects of human development? Wetlands, vital in harboring natural habitats for wildlife and protective wings for human development, have proven to be economically and socially beneficial. They have become an innate part of our civilizations although we may fail to notice it. Thus, the World Wetlands Day, marking the adoption of the “Convention on Wetlands” on 2nd February 1971, is that day that establishes the awareness needed in us – to appreciate the existence of a natural protective force and to raise public awareness upon this subject. This day marksthe rightful gratitude and awareness that Wetlands around the globe deserve, persuading us to make potent decisions and amendments – for Wetlands, for conserving the bustling livelihood of Nature, and for a better World. This day is that event that catalyzes us into making corrections to our way of life – to allow the growth of Nature within us and relish peaceful co-existence with the bliss of nature, a step at a time. The significance of Wetlands within the heart of nature is widely undermined and its acknowledgement is esoteric. This day is that mark that bears in us the fact that life on Earth would never be possible – without the crucial support of Nature and its prized wetlands.

Judges’ comments
This submission argues that wetlands, with all their roles and functions, are vital for the successful development of and area. They must be maintained as they provide a variety of environmental functions that directly lead to economic and social benefits, including tourism. This well written essay lays out its arguments in a clear fashion, ending by describing the value of holding World Wetlands Day each year.

 

 

All book prizes will be purchased from the Natural History Book Service (NHBS), UK, which supports nature conservation. NHBS has already been notified and the organizers will provide the list of prize winners to NHBS which will dispatch the books to them by 29 September 2017.

Please notify us at post@wetlands.org if you do not receive your book prizes by 31st October 2017.

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The Launch of the Competition AIWC 2017

THE LAUNCH OF THE COMPETITION

The competition was successfully launched on Tuesday, 14 February 2017, in the hall of Sekolah Menengah Sains Alam Shah (Alam Shah Science School), Kuala Lumpur. It was attended by all of the school’s students and teachers together with invited guests from five other schools in Kuala Lumpur. It was officially launched by Dr. Farah Shafawati Binti Mohd Taib from the Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (The National University of Malaysia. The school principal, Mr. Roslie Bin Ahmad in his address, welcomed all guests and stressed on the importance of writing as an important tool to convey pertinent issues on nature conservation. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. John Howes, Associate Expert of Wetlands International, who himself is a renowned figure in wetland and waterbird conservation circles in Asia. A video clip, RESTORING THE PEATSWAMP FORESTS OF INDONESIA, was also shown to highlight the role of Wetlands International in the efforts to conserve natural wetlands on a global scale. A mini exhibition by Wetlands International of books and pamphlets on wetlands and wetland conservation was held in the school premises the same day to promote an awareness of wetlands and wetland conservation. The organizer hopes that many schools throughout the world would take part in the competition and become increasingly aware of the current issues affecting global wetland conservation today.


Dr. Farah Shafawati Binti Mohd Taib, who officiated the launch signs the visitors’ book in the principal’s office.

The keynote address by Mr. John Howes

Students at the mini exhibition


The principal, Mr. Roslie Bin Ahmad (left) at the mini exhibition


Group photograph after the launch

 

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ASiS International Essay Writing Competition 2017

ASiS International Essay Writing Competition 2017

The Organiser:
SM Sains Alam Shah (Alam Shah Science School), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (ASiS) in collaboration with Wetlands International, Ede, The Netherlands

Theme: Conserving our Natural Heritage – Wetlands: A Global Perspective

What Are Wetlands?

Forests are often described as the ‘lungs’ of the Earth – making oxygen, and absorbing carbon dioxide to enable living organisms to exist and thrive. In much the same way, wetlands can be likened to the Earth’s circulation system –circulating water across the landscape from clouds to rivers and the sea. Water is vital to life. A world without wetlands is a world without water.

There are wetlands all over the world – they occur wherever water meets land. This can include marshes, along coastlines and rivers, estuaries, flood plains, and lakes – not to mention really special types of wetlands, such as glaciers, peatlands, mangrove swamps, salt flats, intertidal mudflats and coral reefs.

Every continent and country around the World has wetlands, even Antarctica. They are very important habitats for all kinds of biodiversity – such as single celled creatures, like algae, plants, insects and other invertebrates, shell fish, fish, mammals and birds.

 

Humans rely on wetlands for many things:

  1. Food production

Wetlands are critical for fisheries, and serve as nurseries where young fish are protected from the worst of the tides, and from many predators. River deltas, estuaries and flood plains are really fertile, and so are vital areas for farmers to grow their crops. In less accessible areas, such as salt marshes, farm animals can live happily alongside the local wildlife. Some people also rely on wetlands to allow them to hunt for their food.

 

  1. Clean Water

Wetlands are where natural springs provide us clean water. They also act as a filter for rain, and so help purify water from the skies, top up aquifers and reservoirs. We don’t just need clean water to drink – agriculture needs water for irrigation and businesses also need water for their production. We are constantly having to balance the needs of people, business and farming. As the global population increases, this competition gets even more fierce.

 

  1. Carbon Storage

Wetlands store more carbon dioxide in the plants, algae and soils than even most forests. We need to help conserve wetlands in order to help tackle climate change. As well as reducing our carbon emissions, if we can conserve wetlands, we can store more carbon in a way that also supports wildlife.

 

  1. Protection from disasters

We need wetlands to help us cope with naturally-occurring phenomena, such as floods, hurricanes and storms. We have lived with adverse weather and natural disasters as long as there has been life on earth, but climate change means that they are also happening more often, and with greater intensity. Coastal wetlands play a vital role in absorbing the worst ravages of tsunami and help to protect our lands from coastal erosion by providing a buffer between much of the land and the sea. Inland flood plains, peatlands and lakes act as giant sponges to reduce impacts of floods and droughts.

 

  1. Leisure

If you have ever gone fishing, sailing, rock-pooling, outdoor swimming, or even birdwatching, then there’s a good chance that you’ve used wetlands to have fun. Humans use wetlands for so many activities, that are often healthy for us as well as being a lot of fun.

 

Wetlands are also essential to our wildlife. Hundreds of thousands of species of fungus, plant, bacteria and animals need wetlands to live, breed or feed on. So many of our amazing creatures will spend at least a little time in wetlands throughout their life cycle. Many will live their whole lives in the wetlands, others still will use the wetlands as vital staging grounds for epic journeys around the globe.

 

Different Kinds of Wetlands

Because a wetland is wherever water meets land, there are many different types of wetland, each with their own unique biodiversity, and each representing a different use or need in the water cycle.

They can be divided into the following main groups, although there are also a lot of subdivisions within each group, and there is also some overlap between the groups.

  1. Peatlands – which occur all over the world, and they are the most important water filters that we have. Peatlands are very important carbon stores. They are under threat from drainage and commercial uses, such as for fuel or for palm oil plantations.
  2. Rivers and Deltas – the edges of rivers, flood plains and estuaries are essential for the water cycle, and help to move nutrients across the land. They are important for fertile farm land.
  3. Mangrove Forests – mangrove forests occur only in the tropics. They are found on the coasts, and they help protect the land from erosion, and absorb storms and tsunamis, helping to decrease flood damage and stop houses being swept away. They are also one of the most biodiverse habitats we have.
  4. Intertidal wetlands – along many coasts between the high and low tideline, are large mudflats, sandflats or colourful coral reefs, salt marshes or mangroves. These highly productive habitats are important nursery grounds for fish, crabs and shell fish that are eaten by people as well as feeding grounds for millions of waterbirds. They are often home to seagrass beds, that provide food for marine turtles, dugongs and fishes.
  1. Wetlands in Dry Regions – there are even wetlands in deserts and semi-arid areas. Here they are important water stores, in areas that don’t see a lot of rain, often for years at a time. therein order for anything to live there, they need wetlands to store water in dry seasons and droughts. They serve as magnets for all kinds of animal and insect life. People and animals rely on these stores for irrigation and drinking holes.
  2. High Altitude Wetlands – wetlands at high altitudes can be glaciers, peatlands or rivers. They help to collect and store snow and glacial melt water and rainwater. They form a vital part of the water cycle from the high altitudes down to the plains.
  1. Arctic Wetlands – Most of the land mass within the Arctic Circle is actually wetland. It is a really important breeding ground for many migratory birds and animals such as reindeer. as Arctic wetlands are really important storage for greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane.

 

Conservation

Even though wetlands are so important to humans and for wildlife, we are damaging them at a scary rate. Because they contain a lot of minerals, that we can use for fuel (e.g. coal, peat), or precious metals, like copper, that we need to build our homes and gadgets. We also drain wetlands, so that factories, power stations and farms can have water.

Since the 1960s, the United Nations have recognized that this is a problem, and that we need to take steps to conserve and protect wetlands for all of the uses that humans need, and also for all of the wildlife that depends on them.

In 1971, lots of countries and some NGOs including Wetlands International, got together and agreed to work together to stop the destruction of vital wetlands and protect migratory waterbirds, and to set aside important sites for the conservation of the species that use them. This agreement was signed in the town of Ramsar, in Iran, and it became known as the Ramsar Convention.

Under the Ramsar Convention, governments have agreed to manage the most important wetland sites in their country (known as Ramsar sites), and to monitor how healthy they are by looking at the types of species that are found there and the condition of the wetlands. They report back to the Ramsar Convention in a big meeting that takes place once every four years . If problems are identified, then the governments try to agree solutions. Almost all of the countries in the world have signed up to the Ramsar Convention, and are working towards maintaining some wetlands as Ramsar sites.

As well as conservation of internationally important sites under the Ramsar Convention, wetland restoration has become one of the most important conservation techniques. Wetland restoration can happen independently of international agreements, and can be undertaken by governments, conservation groups or even businesses.

There are many ways in which wetlands can be restored. Some examples that Wetlands International have worked on include:

 

But there are many other solutions that help to restore wetlands that have been damaged or polluted.

Many governmental policies used to look at the conservation of single species, but in recent years, there has been a greater shift towards habitat conservation, as it is recognized that the species are so reliant on healthy and thriving habitats to support them. It is likely that more and more conservation efforts will be aimed at sites, habitats and whole flyways, such as the East Asian -Australasian Flyway Partnership, the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, or the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network in order to ensure that the rich biodiversity of wetlands is conserved for our enjoyment and our health.

Besides the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and others provide a powerful basis for Governments and civil society to conserve and manage our environment, including wetlands.
Topics for the Senior Category (16-18 years)

  1. Describe an important type of wetland or the different types of wetlands in your country or region, and discuss the plant life as well as the animal life (birds, mammals, reptiles, fish amphibians and insects) found there. Why is it important to conserve this /these type / types of wetland?
  1. Describe a Ramsar site in your country, its plant and animal life as well as its importance in terms of biodiversity.
  1. “Far from being waste lands, wetlands are in fact very important to a country for her water resources, biodiversity, and as well as being indicators of climatic change”. Discuss this statement with relevant examples.
  1. Many species of waterbirds migrate from their temperate and arctic breeding grounds southwards to warmer latitudes, returning north along well defined routes or flyways to breed in the following year. Along these routes are staging sites where they stop to rest and feed before resuming these tedious journeys. Describe the process of bird migration and some of the waterbirds which breed or spend the non-breeding period in your country, the flyways in your country and region, as well as principal staging sites along these migratory routes. Emphasize why it is very important to protect the habitats within these staging sites together with those in both their breeding and non-breeding grounds.

 

Topics for the Junior Category (12-15 years)

  1. Choose a wetland in your country and describe the plants as well as the animal life there. (For this purpose you may even choose a small pond in your backyard and talk about both the aquatic and non-aquatic plant and animal life found there).
  1. As a school student, suggest what would you do would urge your city / town, or government, or non-governmental bodies to conserve wetlands in your country?
  1. What is / are your favourite wetland plant / plants or animal / animals? Tell us why you like it / them.
  1. Why is it important to have a World Wetlands Day every year? Provide reasons for your answer.

 

Calendar 2017

14 February 2017 : Launch of the Essay Writing Competition

14 February – 31 May 2017  : The duration of the competition

31 May 2017 : Deadline for submissions.

01 June – 31 July 2017 : Processing of all entries

01 August – 07 September 2017 : Evaluating the final entries from each category.

10 September 2017:
The top three award winning entries and the next seven best entries (consolation) for both the senior and junior categories will be announced on the website.

29 September 2017:
Closing and presentation of certificates to the eligible entrants who are able to attend

 

The ASiS International Essay Writing Competition 2017 (AIWC) would like to hear the views of school students worldwide on the conservation of wetlands throughout the world and the repercussions on the associated plant and animal life resulting from the drainage of swamps, habitat destruction in terms of the clearing of mangroves, and peat swamp forest, hunting, and trapping, water pollution as well as efforts undertaken to combat these. In this respect, prospective participants are encouraged to:

Give a clear cut definition of the issue at hand in the questions chosen.

Give your perceptions of the situation globally or in your respective countries, or both.

Outline the roles of the government, non-governmental organizations, global conservation organizations, educational establishments, and the people in efforts to instil love for wetlands and their benefits to man.

Focus on one or more programmes in your country or globally to instil awareness on wetland conservation and the efforts to minimize the loss of wetlands as well as the hunting and trapping of wetlands associated wildlife.

We would also encourage you to draw on your personal experiences when possible and focus on providing your own creative solutions to ensure the inculcation of moral values among the citizens of your country and the efforts to put a stop to the clearing and pollution of wetlands, especially those which provide refuge and sustenance to endangered species of wildlife.

Entrants are strongly advised to read the terms and conditions as well as the frequently asked questions before writing your essays.

 

Terms and conditions

  1. This competition is open to nationals or residents of all countries throughout the world.
  2. There is no entry fee.
  3. There are two categories, senior and junior. Participants must select a junior or senior topic depending on their age on 31 May 2017. If you are between the ages of 16 and 18 on this date you are eligible for the senior category and if you are between the ages of 12 and 15, you are then eligible to participate in the junior category.
  4. There are four topics in each category. Eligible participants may only submit one entry.
  5. All work must be submitted by individuals, group work is not allowed.
  1. Your essay must not exceed 1500 words for the senior category, and 750 words for the junior category. There is however a recommended minimum of 1200 words for the senior category and 600 words for the junior category. Citation of references and inclusion of charts or diagrams will not count into the total number of words in your essay.
  2. All entries must be submitted together with the official entry form which can be downloaded from the website.
  3. Essays are accepted only on MS Word Document, using Arial, font size 12. Other formats will be considered provided they can be converted to MS Word. For grading and compilation purposes we prefer that you not send your work in the pdf format.
  4. Submissions will be accepted until 31 May 2017
  5. All essays must be in the English language.
  6. Submissions must be sent in MS Word document via email attachment to <essay16-18@wetlands.org> for the Senior Category and <essay12-15@wetlands.org> for the Junior Category, and must be together with the official entry form AIWC -2016 – PARTICIPATION. Please also include your postal / mailing address.
  7. Please fill in your name in the official entry form only. Do not include your name or the name of your country in the essay.
  8. Participants must provide the names and websites of their respective schools only in the entry form when submitting their entries.
  9. If quotes and references are included, you are encouraged to clearly mark these throughout the essay and properly cite them.
  10. All submissions must be original. No previously published material will be accepted. Please do not copy chunks of text from the internet and paste them in your essays. ANY FORM OF PLAGIARISM WILL RESULT IN AUTOMATIC DISQUALIFICATION
  11. The Organizer reserves the right to publish and / to make available to the public the winning submissions.
  12. The decision of the jury is final and is not subject to an appeal.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the deadline for submissions? The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2017. Work submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  2.  How do I submit? The submission process is very simple. Essays must be submitted on MS Word (Arial, font size 12) via email attachment. Other formats are allowed provided they can be converted to MS Word. Avoid pdfs.
  3. Who is eligible to participate? This essay writing competition is open for school students from all countries throughout the world. College (except junior college and pre-university) and university students are not eligible to participate.
  4. I am just under 12 or just over 18 – can I still participate? This competition is intended only for school students between 16 – 18 years of age in Category A and 12-15 years in Category B. If you are between ages 16 and 18 on 31 May 2017, you are eligible to participate in the Senior Category. No exceptions will be granted. If you are 18 years and 1 day on that date, you are still eligible, so long as you don’t reach 19 years. Those who are 15 years and 11 months will not be considered for the senior category as you have not reached 16 years. If you are between the ages of 12-16 on 31 May 2017, you are eligible to participate in the Junior Category. If you are 11 years and 11 months on that day you will not be eligible to participate in the Junior Category as you have not reached 12 years.
  5. Can I write on more than one topic? No, you can only submit one essay each, which means you have to choose one of the four topics in your respective category.
  6. In what language shall I submit my work? This essay can only be written in English.
  7. Am I allowed to include graphs, tables, or diagrams in my essay? Yes, you are welcome (but not obliged) to include the mentioned. The content will not count into the total number of words in your essay. Please make sure you explain what each graph, table, or diagram represents.
  8. Is there a word limit for the essays? Yes, different word count rules apply to both Senior and Junior Categories. See Terms and conditions for more details.
  9. Should I put my name, age, school, and country on my essay? No please do not do this. All relevant details are to be written only in the entry form which can be downloaded from the website. You may only write the topic number and topic on your essay.
  10. What are the evaluation criteria for the submissions? Essays will be graded for their structure and coherence, originality and creativity and the use of thoughtful and concrete proposals.

 

Prizes

Senior Category

First Prize
A book about wetlands / wetland conservation worth 40 Euros and a  distinguished award certificate

Second Prize
A book about wetlands / wetland conservation worth 30 Euros  and a distinguished award certificate

Third Prize
A book about wetlands / wetland conservation worth 20 Euros and a distinguished award certificate.

Seven consolation prizes of a book about wetlands / wetland conservation, each worth 15 Euros and a merit award certificate.
Junior Category

First Prize
A book about wetlands / wetland conservation worth 30 Euros and a  distinguished award certificate

Second Prize
A book about wetlands / wetland conservation worth 20 Euros and a distinguished award certificate

Third Prize
A book about wetlands / wetland conservation worth 15 Euros and a distinguished award certificate.

Seven consolation prizes of a book about wetlands / wetland conservation, each worth 10 Euros and a merit award certificate.

 

Certificates of participation will also be awarded to the twenty participants from each category who qualified for the final evaluation but did not win any prize.

 

Contact :

E-mail: Please send all general inquiries regarding both categories of the competition to : post@wetlands.org

SM Sains Alam Shah
Jalan Yaacob Latif
Bandar Tun Razak
56000 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia

Telephone  : +603 91315014
Fax             : +603 91318119
E-mail         : smsaskl@yahoo.com.my
Website     : www.asiskl.org

Wetlands International Head Office
P.O. Box 471
6700 AL Wageningen
The Netherlands
Telephone     +31 (0) 318 660 910
E-mail             post@wetlands.org
Website          www.wetlands.org

 

Welcome to AIWC2017

ASiS International Essay Writing Competition website.
Any suggestions or comments, please email us at:  post@wetlands.org

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Wetlands: A Global Perspective

Wetlands: A Global Perspective


Humans and egrets fishing. Courtesy Wetlands International


Mudskipper Periopthalmus spp. Courtesy Wetlands International

 
Mangrove Forest, Senegal. Courtesy Wetlands International


Dragonfly species, Neurothemis ramburii. Courtesy Wetlands International


Eurasian Otter Lutra lutra Courtesy Wetlands International


Roeurgai peatland, China. Courtesy Wetlands International

 


Cape Buffalo Syncerus caffer feeding in freshwater swamp at Amboseli National Park, Kenya. The swamps here are fed by the melting snows of Mount Kilimanjaro. Allen Jeyarajasingam

 
Lake Nakuru, Kenya, an alkaline lake in East Africa’s rift valley is a Ramsar site and supports huge populations of waterbirds..Allen Jeyarajasingam

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Hello world! Welcome to AIWC2017 website

Welcome to AIWC2017
– ASiS International Essay Writing Competition website.

Any suggestions or comments, please email us at: post@wetlands.org

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment