Ramsar announces winner of Wetlands photo contest

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has announced the winner of its photography competition, open to 15-24 year olds. Contestants were asked to submit a photo of a wetlands scene, with the top prize of a free flights offered under the Star Alliance Biosphere Connections programme.

More than 2,200 young people entered the competition and Ramsar said it was overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of images received.

Francesca Negrini, 17, from Italy, won for her stunning photo of trees reflected in a river in Padule di Fucecchio, Northern Tuscany. Visiting this protected area of marshes on a school trip for World Wetlands Day, Francesca was able to capture the symmetry of trees and water. Francesca wins a free flight, courtesy of Star Alliance, to visit a wetland of her choice. She told Ramsar her dream is to discover the Florida Everglades.

Helder Santana, 23, from Brazil, also won for his incredible image of a horse and its rider rising out of a river near his hometown of Passira in Pernambuco state. A self-taught photographer and musician, Helder managed to record the perfect combination of movement and light. Helder wins a top of the range Hasselbad Stellar compact camera, which will help with his ambitions of making a career out of his photography.

The six other finalists have all been named "Highly Commended" and win a year's subscription to Digital Camera World magazine. They are:

Matt Flower, 22, from Hastings, New Zealand. Matt took a beautiful picture of a walkway in a newly restored area of the Pekapeka wetlands near Hawkes Bay. A newly-qualified baker, Matt has recently taken up photography to add to his other interests in travelling and playing in a band.

Aycin Zeynep Sak, 18, from Bolu, Turkey, chose a dreamlike view across the Yanicaga Lake as her entry. Currently studying at Bolu's Abant Izzet Baysal University, Aycin has been well supported by her fellow students on social media.

Jobert Espino, from the Philippines captured the happiness of children from the Bla'an tribe while out on a walk with a friend in South Cotabato. He said he loved watching the children playing and swimming in the lake.

Jade Rose, 22, from Adelaide, Australia, decided to take her picture underwater in order to show the hidden depths of wetlands. Her entry shows a diver at the Piccaninnie Ponds, a Ramsar-listed site of international importance near Mount Gambier. A student at Adelaide University, Jade is already involved in conservation and research trips through her degree courses.

Stéfany Nobre from Brazil showed great patience in managing to take the perfect close-up shot of a dragonfly at Pacatuca in Ceará state.

22 year old Andreas Raukas from Estonia combines his studies in civil engineering at Tartu University of Life Science with his love of handball and photography. His image of the Sarek national park in Sweden taken from the top of Skierfe mountain depicts the colours of the river system there in wonderful detail.