Story and Photographs by Avery Locklear
From Alaska to North Carolina, Mexico to South Africa, and everywhere in between, government leaders, indigenous peoples, scientists, oceanographers, writers, artists, and youth convened together in Salamanca, Spain for the 10th World Wilderness Congress (WILD10). The conference was held from the 4th – 10th of October and I was lucky enough to attend.
Launched by The Wild Foundation in 1977, the World Wilderness Congress is the world’s longest-running, international public conservation program and forum. Conservationists and environmentalists from around the world come together every four years to educate, train, network and share ideas on how to create a wilder world.
The Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment (WISE) selected 11 students (including myself) to attend WILD10. Each of the selected students developed their own project to create a wilder world, and we presented on these projects at the conference. The projects could be either global or local in scale. I created the Urban Conservation Project, an ongoing project using photojournalism to raise awareness and create new ways to protect the urban species that live within the city limits of my hometown of Winston Salem, North Carolina.
The first three days of WILD10 consisted of the Global Gathering – a series of presentations about inspiring conservation ideas and success stories from around the globe. One of the focuses was the urgency and importance of rewilding Europe.
Around the middle of the week, we were treated to a nature outing, and after traveling roughly two hours northwest of Salamanca’s city center, we arrived at Arribes del Duero Natural Park. The Duero River is the national boundary between Spain and Portugal. Over time, the river has created a valley of deep gorges and precipices. It is home to a plethora of bird species, including the Griffon Vulture. It was great to get out into nature during a conference that was focused on protecting wild spaces.
The last three days were filled with speeches, slideshows, lectures and workshops including: discussions by the International League of Conservation Writers (ILCW) on the importance of using and making words effective; an inspiring panel of WiLD Women; a powerful speech by Sylvia Earle, a pioneer of oceanography; and stunning photography slideshows and the stories behind them by many photographers from the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP).
The dedicated work and incredible narratives by these photographers have further ignited my passion for photography and photojournalism, and have inspired me to use this passion for conservation and awareness.