Youth For Wildlife Conservation
Empowering people in conservation

Youth Voices

Youth stories from across both North and South America on World Wetland's Day.


Wetlands are remarkable places that sustain thousands of species worldwide, including humans, and more importantly, in an age more natural disasters are occurring due to the change in our climate, they are crucial for disaster risk reduction.  

To celebrate World Wetlands Day and the positive conservation steps to protect these areas and their wildlife, we bring you three stories from youth about their conservation work across North and South America in these wet and wonderful ecosystems.  

Restoring and rewilding on Vancover island - Connel 

The Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society's bird and wildlife sanctuary in Cobble Hill Vancouver Island, was incredibly overgrown with only a few species using it. The plan was to excavate three ponds, removing invasive plants and planting native wetland species, and to install nest boxes and perches whilst keeping some of the overgrown areas for nesting birds.

The wetland, as the name suggests, is wet. This causes a few issues when attempting to use a massive digger to dig ponds. The contractor, however, had done many similar projects and assured us that using logs, almost as a giant raft will keep the digger afloat in order to complete the work. Miraculously, it did.

The area is important habitat for red-winged blackbirds, marsh wren and black bear and with the creation of new ponds we hoped to increase species diversity, and provide vital habitat for endangered species such as the red-legged frog. 

 In time the vegetation regrew around the ponds, giving the wildlife privacy within the marsh.  The project had been planned and discussed for almost 2 years, and it was exciting to take part in it.  As we left the site, ducks were seen dabbling on pond number one a pair of sandpipers could be seen returning to the edge of pond number one.  The hard work in the area continues in an attempt to keep out a number of invasive species (easier said than done), whilst encouraging as much native wildlife to the site as possible.


Be sure to read more on Connel's Blog here. 


The importance of Datem del Marañón in the Peruvian Amazon, Daniela


En Español 

En octubre del año 2015 tuve la oportunidad de visitar la provincia Datem del Marañón, ubicada en el departamento amazónico de Loreto en Perú. Datem del Marañón es conocida por los diversos humedales amazónicos que alberga, así como por los 7 pueblos indígenas que se benefician de ellos. El humedal más importante de la provincia es el Abanico del Pastaza, el cual es el Sitio Ramsar (humedal de importancia internacional) más grande del Perú. Actualmente, la deforestación es la principal amenaza para los humedales, la cual afectaría no solo a los ecosistemas y a la vida silvestre que ahí habita, sino a las diferentes comunidades indígenas.

PROFONANPE es el primer fondo ambiental del Perú y se encuentra a puertas de implementar el proyecto “Construyendo Resiliencia en los Humedales de la Provincia Datem del Marañón, Perú”. El proyecto busca reducir las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, así como fortalecer a los gobiernos locales y a las comunidades indígenas, por ejemplo, a través de la gestión sostenible de los recursos naturales que proveen los humedales. Al empoderar a las comunidades indígenas en la gestión de sus recursos, se busca a la vez mejorar su calidad de vida y fortalecer también procesos como el empoderamiento de las mujeres en la toma de decisiones de sus comunidades.


Este proyecto fue el primer proyecto a nivel mundial en ser aprobado por el Fondo Verde para el Clima, establecido por la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climático. Justamente, yo tuve la posibilidad de visitar el ámbito de intervención del proyecto al acompañar a una delegación coreana en el reconocimiento de la zona.

Datem del Marañon es uno de los lugares más impresionantes que he tenido la oportunidad de conocer. Considero que la importancia de conservar sus humedales no solo radica en el importante papel que juegan al momento de mitigar los efectos del cambio climático, sino también en proteger la enorme diversidad biológica y cultural que éstos albergan. 


In English


In October 2015, I had the chance to visit Datem del Marañón province, in the Loreto region of the Peruvian Amazon. Datem del Marañón is known because of its Amazonian wetlands and the 7 indigenous communities that benefit from them. The most important wetland from Datem del Marañón is called “Abanico del Pastaza”, which is the largest Ramsar Site (wetland of international importance) in Peru. Currently, deforestation is the main threat for the wetlands, which will damage not only the ecosystem and the wildlife living there, but also the local people.

POFONANPE is the first Peruvian environmental fund and is about to implement the project “Building the Resilience of Wetlands in the Province of Datem del Marañón, Peru”. The project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen local governments and indigenous communities, for example, through the sustainable management of wetlands’ natural resources. By entrusting indigenous communities with the management of resources, it aims to improve their livelihoods, and empower women in the decision-making processes.


This project was the first one approved by the Green Climate Fund from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Before its approval, I had the opportunity to join a Korean delegation in their visit to the project area.

Datem del Marañón is one of the most breathtaking places that I have had the chance to visit. I think that Datem del Marañón’s wetlands conservation is highly important not only because of their indispensable roll in climate change mitigation, but also in order to protect their enormous biological and cultural diversity.





Aliens in the Everglades - Josephine 

The Argentine black and white tegu (Tupinambis merianae), as the name suggests is native to Argentina and other parts of South America. So, when this monster monitor turned up digging through gopher tortoise nests in the Everglades National Park, conservationists were stunned to say the least. Although it may not be that surprising as the Sunshine states hosts dozens of invasive species that call the tropical swamp land home.

 Photo credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Service, Stan Kirkland

 Photo credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Service, Stan Kirkland

Like most  alien reptiles, tegus were first brought into the United States via the exotic pet trade. Tupinambis species are listed on Appendix II of CITES, meaning their trade is closely controlled but not illegal, this was not put in place because of the demand in the pet trade but in fact, to monitor their original trade purposes of skin sales in the exotic leather trade.

Tegus, as an invasive species, pose an incredible threat to the ecosystem. They predate on eggs of native species such as the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), turtles, tortoises, and many native birds. 

My research, using radio telemetry data collected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Service and their partners at the University of Florida, focused on the remarkable expanse of these creatures during 2009 – 2012, despite their unusual nesting                                                        and breeding patterns. All in an effort to predict nesting sites and focus effective trapping methods in these areas to capture them.


Unfortunately, tegus are still on the loose in the Everglades today, and reptile collectors can easily find and purchase them online for less than two hundred dollars. Some great reporting apps (Ivegot1) have been created to report any sightings of these black and white lizards but the responsible really falls on pet owners. Don’t let it loose. 

Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Service, Volunteers Don Corbin and Tim O'Neill train to monitor and trap the invasive Argentine Black and White Tegu at a private property in Hillsborough County.

Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Service, Volunteers Don Corbin and Tim O'Neill train to monitor and trap the invasive Argentine Black and White Tegu at a private property in Hillsborough County.