Many thousands of outdoor enthusiasts have joined European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) members to choose six vital conservation projects for EOCA to fund this spring. In total, nearly €180,000 has been pledged to projects in six different countries, with all funds coming from membership fees and fundraising monies raised from the European outdoor industry. EOCA holds two funding rounds per year, with the second one taking place in the autumn.
During March, EOCA held its annual spring public vote. A shortlist of around 20 projects were showcased by National Geographic Germany, The Great Outdoors (UK), NORR (Germany), Alpin (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), and Hike & Trekking, Bike & Trekking, and Sport Partner (Netherlands). Readers of the magazines, outdoor enthusiasts and supporters of the projects were all invited to vote for their favourite project in three categories and the project with the most votes in each category is now being funded. In April, a private vote for members only was held, with three more projects being chosen for funding.
Staggeringly, during the public vote, over 31.5 million people were reached through online, print and social media, radio, TV and other means. The vote featured in national newspapers in Madagascar and Ecuador, on various university websites, and was promoted by the the Head of BBC Nepal and two former Miss Nepals! The reach of this process not only raises awareness of what EOCA is doing on behalf of the European outdoor industry, more importantly, it raises awareness of the conservation issues and work that the projects are involved with. All of the shortlisted projects involve some educational element as well as working with local communities and they report back that the voting process is hugely beneficial to them, regardless of whether or not they are successful in winning funding.
The signups to the quarterly “Friends of EOCA’ newsletter doubled during the vote which means that over 9000 people now receive regular news about what EOCA, its members and its supported projects are achieving.
The projects chosen by the public to receive funding from EOCA are:
- Conserving Red Pandas through Community Stewardship, Nepal.
- Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT), Malaysia.
- Community Action for Protecting the Endangered Sangai Deer, India.
The projects chosen by EOCA Members to receive funding are:
- Wildfjords Restoration, Iceland.
- AgroS.O.S.tainable Phase II, Spain.
- Reducing threats to Cross River Gorillas through alternative livelihoods, Nigeria.
Catherine Savidge, Joint General Manager of EOCA said “Yet again, we have been staggered at the reach of the public vote. This time around, we have reached more than three times the number of people we have in the past. All of the projects involved in the votes have been selected by EOCA as they address real threats to species or habitats and have a link to the outdoor enthusiast. Each one of them is vital and delivering much needed conservation work. We look forward to seeing how the chosen projects progress and hearing of their successes over the next 12 to 24 months. And we invite outdoor companies going to OutDoor in Friedrichshafen next month to visit us and find out how they can get involved in EOCA, to help us fund more vital projects in the future.”