More Details More Details

Readers of The Great Outdoors can help choose the project that will receive funding from the European Outdoor Conservation Association in 2017

The European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) is a membership body comprised of businesses throughout the outdoor industry, which raises money for conservation projects across the world. Every year, we at The Great Outdoors work with them to help choose where some of their funds will be spent.

This year, we are working with EOCA to help decide the recipients of funds in the Alpine category of their annual project funding initiative. The four projects that have been nominated by EOCA members are listed below.

The background

What is EOCA? The European Outdoor Conservation Association is a collective of 130 businesses from the outdoor industry who have come together to raise money for worldwide conservation projects. Conservation bodies, which are nominated by EOCA members, can apply for grants of up to €30,000 for specific projects.

How are the projects shortlisted? Conservation organisations apply to EOCA and each project is scored according to a strict set of criteria. The top scoring projects are put onto the shortlist and divided into three categories: nature (concerned with a specific species or habitat); outdoor (based where people go to enjoy outdoor activities); and alpine (projects based at high altitudes).

Who are EOCA’s members? Members include many of the most well-known outdoor gear brands including UK firms Berghaus, Craghoppers, Montane, Mountain Equipment, Páramo and Rab as well as George Fisher and the BMC.

How much money has EOCA raised? Since it was founded in 2006 by the European Outdoor Group (EOG) the organisation has donated over €2 million to conservation projects. To celebrate this landmark, it recently launched a project to plant 2 million trees over two years.

[A] Cleopatra’s Needle Restoration Project, Philippines

Nominated by: Páramo

Cleopatra’s Needle is the third highest point on Palawan Island in the Philippines and a popular trekking and climbing destination. The site has approximately 85% of Palawan’s endemic species of mammals and birds, many of which are endangered. Despite bans on commercial logging in Palawan and the 41,000 hectares of primary forest recently being declared a Critical Habitat, threats still include illegal felling, charcoal production and agriculture. Visitors currently create their own trails in the forest. The project, run by the Centre for Sustainability, will create 10km of official, signed trail to a popular cave and waterfalls to keep visitors off fragile and sensitive habitats and allow vegetation to reestablish in eroded areas. It will strengthen alternative livelihood opportunities via tourism guiding for trekking, climbing and birding tours and plant 2,000 native trees. Native tree walks will help educate 100 locals about the importance of the forest and field guides and maps will be created for visitors.

[B] Conserve and Restore Otter Habitats, Romania

Nominated by: OutDoor

The aim of this project is to conserve and restore aquatic habitats for otters in a protected area in the Vrancea mountains – which make up part of the Carpathians of South-eastern Romania – by engaging local communities and outdoor enthusiasts. Asociatia pentru Conservarea Diversitatii Biologice will do this, together with volunteers from the local community along 30km of the River Putna, by monitoring the otter population, building six otter holts to encourage otters into areas where few signs of them are seen, identifying and protecting existing otter holts, planting 1,000 native trees on the river banks, removing invasive species, and removing waste. The project will also raise awareness of the otters and their conservation by using the collected waste for art installations and raft building, providing workshops and training camps for children, installing six interactive information panels about the ecosystem conservation and marking up two 35km bike trails complete with information boards about the protected area and otters.

[C] Mauritian Fruit Bat– A Tool for Forest Regeneration

Nominated by: Marmot

Mauritius has retained less than 1% of its quality primary forest and deforestation is ongoing. Ecosystem Restoration Alliance’s mission is to restore the forests for their endemic species. Bats are vital keystone species in these forests, feeding on endemic plants and at the same time pollinating them and dispersing their seeds. Due to habitat limitations and deforestation, the bats are forced to feed off the island’s farmed fruit trees and so they are seen as pests and are culled. The Mauritian fruit bat is soon likely to be listed as endangered. This project focuses on the restoration of two conservation priority areas. It will establish nurseries, remove invasive species and reforest. It will run educational workshops for local people and farmers to help them understand the importance of and limited threat posed by bats, and an educational trail with viewpoints over bat colonies will educate and inspire visitors and local school

[D] Sipi Community Self-Help Tree Regeneration, Uganda

Nominated by: Bergans of Norway

The Sipi Hills, within Uganda’s Mount Elgon National Park, have been exploited by the local community for charcoal and firewood. The trees also provide medicine and the forest is one of the main catchment areas for rivers into the Sote Swamp, an important habitat to several globally threatened species. Women Without Poverty (WOWIPO), a community self-help group, wants to establish 2,500 fruit and native tree nurseries to support incomes and reforestation of the forest-capped hills. Fifty thousand households will be provided with five saplings each; two mango trees for income and food, and three native trees to restore the natural forest, amounting to 250,000 trees in total. Training and advice on planting and maintaining seedlings will be provided. Traditional Leader Herbalists will provide the seeds free of charge and also establish a campsite and off-road bike trails in the Sipi Hills to provide alternative income to communities.