UP Student wins Global Wetlands Youth Photo contest

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University of the Philippines (UP) engineering student Gabriel B. Mejia has won the Global Wetlands Youth Photo Contest 2017.

Gabriel Mejia
Gabriel Mejia [via Ramsar]

The 21-year old civil engineering student’s winning photo was an aerial view from atop Mt. Sawi of the Gabaldon floodplains in Nueva Ecija, Philippines.

Mejia in a Ramsar interview recounts how he took the winning shot after a 4-hour drive and a whole day climb, “I was mesmerized by the natural beauty and formation of the place and I couldn’t resist taking the shot. I was inspired by the fact that the floodplain looked like the African continent and how it connected the two rural towns showing the unity of life.”

Located between two rural towns, the Gabaldon floodplain has been known to protect the communities in the region by absorbing and storing excess rainfall and storing it for the dry season.

The Philippines is listed with 7 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 244,017 hectares.

Gabaldon floodplain
An arial view of the Gabaldon floodplain of Neuva Ecija, Philippines. Floodplains can be compared to giant reservoirs that when left intact store flood waters. [by Gabriel Mejia via Ramsar]

The mountaineer and explorer says he has plans “to become an environmental and coastal engineer in the Philippines to create and design a sustainable and environmentally friendly structure that will protect both the coastal communities and marine wildlife living in our country.”

The photo by this aspiring environmental engineer and travel photographer who wants to specialize in the field of disaster-risk management won over 700 other entries from around the world on the theme, "Wetlands that help us cope with extreme weather events."

The 2017 Wetlands Photo Contest is organized by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands to highlight the value of floodplains which can be compared to giant reservoirs that store flood waters.

Mejia won the main prize of a free flight to visit his choice of a Wetland of International Importance, which he identified as Parque Provincial El Tromen in Argentina.

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