The Great Outdoors has teamed up with the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) to ask readers to choose a conservation project worthy of funding in 2015


The EOCA – a group composed of outdoors brands and retailers in the European outdoor industry –was formed in 2006 to raise money to put directly into conservation projects worldwide. Since its inception in 2006 it has raised over €1.5 million for conservation and funded 64 projects in 36 difference countries. 100% of the monies raised by the organisation go directly to the conservation projects chosen by its members and the general public.

The group initially called for organisations to apply for up to €30,000 for specific project and then those judged by the EOCA to most closely fit its requirements were then narrowed down to a final shortlist.

Now it’s time for your say. Have a look at the shortlist below and vote for your favourite project. The one with the most votes will then receive the EOCA grant that was applied for.

Make sure to get your vote in by 23 March!

Love Hill Mangrove Restoration, Bahamas

Nominated by: Snugpak

Andros is characterised by mangrove estuaries. These are important nursery, feeding and refuge habitats for fish, birds, turtles, sea mammals and invertebrates, all vital for cleaning algae which settles on the Andros Barrier Reef; the third longest barrier reef in the world. Mangroves are vitally important to the overall health of an entire ecosystem; they represent a significant carbon sink and provide protection to coasts from storms and climate change. When three causeways were built across the Love Hill mangroves over 50 years ago, some culverts were installed to maintain water flow. These however are now broken or clogged, and where no culverts were built, the mangroves are only nourished during high tides when water floods over the causeway. This has resulted in a degraded mangrove area. It is encroached by the invasive casuarina pine, clogged with marine litter, smelling of methane and seriously degraded as a habitat. This project will restore and enhance tidal flow and therefore habitat in 96 square hectares of mangrove, by cleaning out, repairing and installing new culverts on all three causeways, and by replacing invasive pines with native species. By restoring the mangrove habitat, the fish populations in the open ocean and the health of the barrier reef will also be improved. Love Hill, Andros will be restored as an attractive area to explore, bird watch, kayak, swim and walk.

Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT), Malaysia

Nominated by: Chrissy Dorn

Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT)

Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) is an alliance of four NGOs working to save Malaysia’s tigers. CAT is the first programme in Malaysia that enables the public to get involved in tiger conservation. CAT Walks (anti-poaching wilderness watches) bring small groups trekking or camping in the rainforests of the Yu River Wildlife Corridor, the sole link between Malaysia’s two largest forested areas. Together, they form the world’s fifth-largest tiger landscape (35,000 sq. km). Volunteers look out for signs of poachers, snares, as well as tigers, elephants, sambar deer and other wildlife. Snares and traps found are recorded, deactivated and reported to the authorities. CAT Walkers also check camera traps to monitor wildlife. As a continual presence in the area is required to deter poaching, this project will run 2 scheduled weekend walks every month. Trips are led by trained and experienced leaders, and some are guided by indigenous Batek people who will teach volunteers the art of foraging and animal tracking. CAT helps increase: tiger and sambar populations, the Batek’s chance of preserving their traditional hunter-gatherer culture, local ecotourism opportunities; and is a unique experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Promoting appreciation and stewardship of the Ankarabolava-Agnakatrika Forest amongst local teenagers, Madagascar

Nominated by: European Outdoor Group

The Ankarabolava-Agnakatrika in south eastern Madagascar is of exceptional importance because it is the last fragment of native evergreen forest in the area, covering 1574 hectares. It provides habitat to a diverse flora and fauna that includes several threatened species and it is also an important source of natural goods and services for local people. However, due to shifting cultivation, exploitation of timber and wildfires, much of the forest has been lost over the last two decades. Missouri Botanical Garden’s Madagascar Research and Conservation Programme has supported a community based conservation project since 2009, aiming to conserve the site by promoting its sustainable use by local people. While the conservation strategy recognises the economic importance of the forest it also aims to add value to the forest as a place of recreation and spiritual renewal for local people. With that in mind, this project will host nature camps in the forest for 500 young people during which they will participate in recreational activities and also contribute to the restoration of abandoned agricultural plots in the forest by planting 10,000 tree seedlings produced by a project-funded tree nursery.

Seahorse and Seagrass Project, UK

Nominated by: OutDoor

Seahorse and Seagrass Project

The project plans to work with partners in the outdoor community, conservation bodies and authorities, to ensure the designation and implementation of a Marine Conservation Zone at South Beach, Studland Bay in Dorset. The bay is home to a seagrass meadow, one of the most important ecosystems inshore in the UK. It is important for the wildlife it provides ecosystem for including the spiny seahorse, and its role in preventing erosion of the seabed and cliffs through its lessening of the wave energy. Seagrass meadows are under threat here however due, in particular, to the large number of boats visiting the bay and dropping anchor. These anchors drag up the seagrass and damage the habitat. This project will gather vital information about the seagrass and its dependent species, carry out seagrass restoration work and, through the setting up of the Marine Conservation Zone, educate others about the importance of seagrass meadows, using seahorses as the flagship species. The project also aims to push for the setting up and trialing of environmentally friendly moorings to enable boats to visit without causing damage from dropping harmful anchors.

Mangrove Conservation and Eco Tourism, Madagascar

Nominated by: Schoeffel

Mangrove Conservation and Eco Tourism, Madagascar

Mangrove forests play a key role in mitigating against climate change, through their role as a carbon sink and in the vast range of ecosystem services they provide. In the tropics and subtropics, these marine forests are critical to the wellbeing of coastal communities, yet they are threatened by deforestation, primarily for timber and charcoal production. Blue Ventures Conservation is an international marine conservation organisation working in partnership with coastal communities in places where the ocean is vital to coastal cultures and economies. During this project, the organisation will introduce ecotourism to a coastal mangrove community in order to reduce pressure on the mangroves and provide alternative sources of income to local communities there. In conjunction with a local eco tourism operator, training will be given to guides for kayak tours and local women for meal preparation. Boardwalks, viewing towers and signage will be built for people to explore the mangroves without causing any damage to the unique environment. A percentage of the earnings from the tours will go into two community based mangrove management associations that are charged with enforcing sustainable mangrove management laws through patrols and the implementation of sustainable extraction quotes.

Community based conservation of tiger habitat in the buffer zone of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, India

Nominated by: Bergans of Norway

Community based conservation of tiger habitat in the buffer zone of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, India

More than half of the wild tiger’s worldwide population is found in India’s 47 tiger reserves, including the famous Bandhavargh Tiger Reserve. Over 100,000 visitors annually come to Bandhavgarh to see them. The buffer zone around the reserve keeps the pressures of local communities away from critical tiger habitat and provides habitat to ‘spill over’ tigers from the core zones. However, forest resources here are under immense pressure from overgrazing and overharvesting, which has led to the spread of invasive plant species and degradation of habitat. Littering of non-biodegradable waste by visitors is also a problem. This project will encourage cattle stall-feeding and construct 10 biogas plants and 100 energy efficient stoves to reduce the need for firewood and control grazing. Water holes will be created in the forest so that tigers and other wildlife have access to water in dry periods, keeping them away from human habitation, so minimising human conflict. Invasive species such as Lantana will be removed from 125 ha and responsible tourism will be promoted by creating a three km trail with 20 information boards and the installation of rubbish bins.

You can find out more about EOCA and the conservation projects it has already supported at