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Okefenokee Refuge Image Wins U.S. Ramsar Wetlands Photo Contest

June 2015

(Washington) The Environmental Law Institute’s National Wetlands Awards has announced the winners of the 2015 U.S. Ramsar Wetlands Photo Contest. The winning photographs were taken at U.S. Ramsar Wetland sites in Georgia, South Carolina, and New Jersey.

The grand prize went to Diane Kirkland for her photograph at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. A runner-up prize went to Joan Eckhardt for her photograph of Francis Biedler Forest in South Carolina. A second runner-up prize went to Kelly Hunt for her photograph of Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey.

The winning photographs were chosen by representatives from the Environmental Law Institute, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. National Ramsar Committee.

The three organizations partnered on the contest to raise awareness of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, the international treaty is dedicated to the protection of wetlands across the world. Wetlands are critical natural resources that improve water quality, protect communities against flooding, and support numerous wildlife and plant species. The treaty has 168 contracting parties and has recognized 2,186 wetlands worldwide.

For a wetland to be designation as a “wetland of international importance” by the U.S. National Ramsar Committee, it must first meet at least one of nine different criteria, which includes: wetlands that are considered a rare or unique in a particular region; wetlands that support vulnerable, endangered, or critically endanger species; wetlands that support significant populations of waterfowl or fish species; or wetlands that are necessary to maintain biological diversity in a particular region.

The winning photographs were announced and displayed at the 2015 National Wetlands Awards ceremony on May 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. To view the winning photographs, please visit www.nationalwetlandsawards.org or www.elinwa.org/photo-contest.

Every year, ELI recognizes excellence across a broad spectrum of areas of environmental law, policy, and management, both domestically and internationally. Honorees are typically individuals, but in some instances have been governments and institutions. By honoring exemplary service and achievement, ELI highlights the direct link between individual and collective actions and better environmental, economic, and social outcomes.