ASiS International Essay Writing Competition 2017
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- Policy recommendations looking at water use along an entire river
- Mangrove forests restoration by looking at creating conditions where more mangrove seeds can germinate
- Rewetting of drained peatland
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)
- 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?
- Describe a Ramsar site in your country, its plant and animal life as well as its importance in terms of biodiversity.
- “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.
- 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)
- 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).
- 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?
- What is / are your favourite wetland plant / plants or animal / animals? Tell us why you like it / them.
- Why is it important to have a World Wetlands Day every year? Provide reasons for your answer.
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
- This competition is open to nationals or residents of all countries throughout the world.
- There is no entry fee.
- 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.
- There are four topics in each category. Eligible participants may only submit one entry.
- All work must be submitted by individuals, group work is not allowed.
- 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.
- All entries must be submitted together with the official entry form which can be downloaded from the website.
- 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.
- Submissions will be accepted until 31 May 2017
- All essays must be in the English language.
- Submissions must be sent in MS Word document via email attachment to <firstname.lastname@example.org> for the Senior Category and <email@example.com> for the Junior Category, and must be together with the official entry form AIWC -2016 – PARTICIPATION. Please also include your postal / mailing address.
- 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.
- Participants must provide the names and websites of their respective schools only in the entry form when submitting their entries.
- If quotes and references are included, you are encouraged to clearly mark these throughout the essay and properly cite them.
- 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
- The Organizer reserves the right to publish and / to make available to the public the winning submissions.
- The decision of the jury is final and is not subject to an appeal.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the deadline for submissions? The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2017. Work submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In what language shall I submit my work? This essay can only be written in English.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
A book about wetlands / wetland conservation worth 40 Euros and a distinguished award certificate
A book about wetlands / wetland conservation worth 30 Euros and a distinguished award certificate
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.
A book about wetlands / wetland conservation worth 30 Euros and a distinguished award certificate
A book about wetlands / wetland conservation worth 20 Euros and a distinguished award certificate
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.
E-mail: Please send all general inquiries regarding both categories of the competition to : firstname.lastname@example.org
SM Sains Alam Shah
Jalan Yaacob Latif
Bandar Tun Razak
56000 Kuala Lumpur
Welcome to AIWC2017
ASiS International Essay Writing Competition website.
Any suggestions or comments, please email us at: email@example.com