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In the summer of 2006, a small group of outdoor companies got together with the aim of raising money to put back into the Great Outdoors. They wanted to find a way of funding practical, on-the-ground conservation projects, supporting and protecting the environment they depended on for their livelihood – not to mention their own love of being ‘out there’.
Although many companies within Europe already had their own programmes of environmental giving, this was a chance to harness the collective power of the industry to put money directly into grassroots projects and make a tangible difference to threatened wild areas, species and habitats.
11 years on, there are over 130 members of the EOCA, including brands, manufacturers, retailers and dealers stretching from Norway to Spain and from the Republic of Ireland across to the Czech Republic. In that time, EOCA has funded 93 projects in 44 different countries, to the tune of €2.3 million – showing that, all working together, the European outdoor industry can really make a difference!
The projects chosen are as wide ranging as the members, and the locations of these projects are not restricted to any geographical boundaries. All projects must protect threatened habitats and wild spaces and must have a link to the outdoor enthusiast. So far EOCA has renovated trails in Macedonia, Scotland, Austria and Nepal; funded research into climate change and the use of pesticides across Europe; protected wetland bog in Ireland; restored, planted and saved forests in the Czech Republic, Bolivia and Sweden; created and improved valuable and threatened wildlife habitats for elephants in Thailand and Kenya, brown bears in northern Spain, river dolphins in India, red squirrels in the UK, raptors in Georgia and falcons in Bulgaria and cleared tonnes of rubbish from mountains and seas worldwide.
Each spring and early autumn, members of the public can get online and help EOCA choose which projects to fund from a shortlist drawn up by EOCA from project applications using strict criteria. There is a public vote which, in the Spring of 2017, reached 64 million people! Get your friends, colleagues, clients – anyone you know – involved in voting. Sign up to the EOCA friends newsletter on the website to for all the latest news and events. If you feel you can donate, or want to help by raising money for more valuable conservation projects, there is a PayPal button on EOCA’s home page. 100% of any donations will go into the conservation projects supported by the organisation. Currently the organisation is raising funds to plant another 80,000 trees in Nepal to repair some of the damage cause by the 2015 earthquakes and feed into EOCA’s current target to plant 2 million trees around the world.
As awareness of climate change and the damage man is doing to the environment grows, so too the importance of the work of EOCA increases. The more companies and outdoor enthusiasts that get involved, the bigger the impact will be and the greater the difference the industry can make to the wild open landscapes that are its livelihood – and more importantly: its passion
For further information about EOCA, the work it does and the projects it supports, please have a look at www.outdoorconservation.eu