Readers of The Great Outdoors can help choose the project that will receive funding from the European Outdoor Conservation Association in 2018.
The European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) is a membership body comprised of businesses from the outdoor industry, which raises money for conservation projects across the world. Every year, The Great Outdoors gives our readers the opportunity to vote for which projects will receive funding from the association.
This year, we are working with EOCA to determine the recipients of funds in the Mountain category of their annual project funding initiative. The five projects that have been nominated by EOCA members are listed below.
What is EOCA? The European Outdoor Conservation Association (outdoorconservation.eu) is a collective of 136 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 verified by EOCA’s scientific advisors and divided into 3 categories: Mountain (projects located at higher altitudes), Water (conservation of aquatic habitats and surrounds including marine freshwater, wetlands and rivers) and Forest (protection, restoration or enhancement of forest habitats).
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 €2.3 million to conservation projects.
[A] Kozara sensitive areas protection and restoration, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Nominated by: Rohan
Amount requested: €27,240
Kozara National Park is one of the most-visited protected areas in Bosnia & Herzegovina and, draws over 100,000 visitors annually. Zeciji Kozara is one of the best known and loved routes in the park. It is a natural rocky viewpoint but represents the most heavily used areas in the park which has damaged the route and surrounding habitats as visitors create new paths to avoid eroded ones.
The project will create an alternative route, to protect the fragile habitats of hop hornbeam, flowering ash, yew and their associated wildlife and watercourses which are also impacted. This will minimise negative human impact on local habitat and biodiversity as well as maintain a footpath in the priority area. The project will create a new 4km-long path, restore habitat by planting 1,500 saplings of European yew, engage outdoor enthusiasts through hands-on work and volunteering activities, and promote the new path by producing leaflets and organising guided walks for the local community.
[B] Restoration of the Pan de Azúcar Páramo, Colombia
Nominated by: Páramo
Amount requested: €29,998
The Pan de Azúcar Páramo is located in Boyacá Columbia. It is 3,300-3,900 metres above sea level and is the source of the main water supply to the municipality. With high levels of endemism, 49% of world’s páramo is in Colombia and 19% of this is in Boyacá.
Pan de Azúcar Lagoon at 3,750m has hundreds of visitors, walkers and trekkers every year. However, reduced water levels in the Surba River and the Lagoon are risking the water supply to the municipality. This is being caused by foreign pine trees planted in the area. The municipality has started the restoration of 33ha of this area, and this project will restore a further 10ha by removing the foreign pines and replanting the area with 11,110 native shrubs, herbs and grasses.
In addition, a training programme to increase awareness of the importance of the páramo will be carried out with local communities, and overgrown trails will be cleared to enable locals and visitors to enjoy the area.
[C] Reforestation and adventure tourism for the yellow-tailed monkey, Peru
Nominated by: Goal Zero
Amount requested: €26,400
The Yambrasbamba community manages the Pampa del Burro Private Conservation Area covering 2,700ha of white sand forest and montane cloud forests. The area lies at the heart of the tropical Andes biodiversity hotspot, the most biodiverse area on Earth, and offers many experiences for wildlife and adventure tourism. It is also home to the critically endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey, and many other endangered species. But localised climate changes, impoverishment of soils, landslides and a growing scarcity of natural resources are increasingly noticeable in this area.
The project will work with the local community in a joint conservation effort by developing wildlife and adventure tourism, restoring damaged ecosystems and increase connectivity through reforestation. 5000 trees will be planted in the home ranges of the monkeys, and a further 5000 will be planted by landowners to connect forest fragments. Tourist itineraries will also be developed and local guides and accommodation hosts will be given training.
[D] Enhancing and safeguarding Torres del Paine’s O Circuit, Chile
Nominated by: Häglofs
Amount requested: €26,416
Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia is a UNESCO biosphere reserve due to its exceptional ecological significance. With four distinct ecosystems, the park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including 40 different mammals and about 115 bird species. About one-third of these birds rely on the park’s wetland ecosystems.
This National Park is becoming increasingly popular, with 252,000 visitors in 2016, a 19% rise on the previous year. Such intensive use has placed a huge strain on the region’s flora and fauna, ageing infrastructure, limited trails and resources. This project will protect and enhance the National Park by providing infrastructure and information that allows visitors to enjoy and learn about the park’s ecosystems.
Working with local volunteers and park rangers, it will construct a 170m high quality boardwalk along heavily used but sensitive segments of the seven-day ‘O’ circuit trail. It will also install displays that communicate the critical features of the ecosystems to an estimated 10,000 trail users annually.
[E] Sustainable Livelihoods and Tourism, Cambodia
Nominated by: Chrissy Dorn Business Development Outdoor and Sports
Amount requested: €17,287
Covering 1.7 million acres, the forests of South West Cardamom Mountain National Park are one of the largest, oldest and most intact natural habitats in the region, home to globally threatened flora and fauna, with mammal species including Asian elephants, Sunda pangolins, and Malayan sun bears. The main threat to wildlife is non-residents, including organised criminal gangs hunting wildlife with rifles, hunting dogs and snares. Anti-poaching units removed 27,000 snares in 2015 in the national park. Funding would be used for two new Government positions within the units, giving the team capacity and authority to enforce existing wildlife laws, while expanding their role to provide conservation education to local communities and visitors. This will ensure the safety of the patrolled forest area, reduce hunting, create viable habitat to release rescued wildlife and increase the chance of visitors encountering them. The patrols will maintain 200km of hiking trails, supporting about 340 of the 632 families that live in Chi Phat by employing guides, cooks, drivers and rangers.