The European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) public vote has come to a close, after four weeks of intense campaigning and voting. In total 3 projects have been selected to receive funding, 57,000 votes have been recorded and well over 8.5 million people have been reached worldwide!
During the last four weeks, the public has been encouraged to go to the website of EOCA or the website of 7 magazine partners, and read details of a number of shortlisted conservation projects all looking for their vote. The projects were presented in three categories: Alpine projects (projects at high altitudes), Outdoor projects (projects linked to outdoor activities such as hiking and biking) and Nature projects (projects to conserve particular threatened species or habitats which outdoor users enjoy observing). The project with the highest number of votes in each category is to receive funding from EOCA this year of up to €30,000.
‘The response to the voting process has been tremendous’ said Catherine Savidge, Joint General Manager of EOCA. ‘As well as our magazine partners, the projects featured in the process managed to spread the message far and wide. Features appeared in The Saturday Times in the UK, on 4 radio shows in Spain, and spread rapidly via social media particularly in Romania. We are stil calculating the reach of this processs, but already we know it is well over 8.5 million people due to everyone’s efforts. We have had 110,000 unique visits to our website, and received 57,000 votes. As well as choosing 3 worthwhile conservation projects for EOCA to fund, the process has really demonstrated that the consumers are interested in what we are doing and do support the conservation efforts being funded by our members.
Nat Page from Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania, one of the winning projects, said ‘ we were delighted to be involved in such a stimulating campaign and thrilled to secure over 10,600 votes for our project. It was a very valuable experience for us, enabling us to network widely with young Romanians, corporations, universities and NGOs to spread the message about our project and EOCA’s funding. We are very grateful to the members of EOCA who have made this funding possible and we very much look forward to working with the association as we implement our project to establish a mountain bike trail in Romania, bringing benefits to the threatened Târnava Mare landscape.’
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The projects which have successfully won funding through this process are:
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Discover Târnava Mare, Romania (nominating member Vaude, chosen in conjunction with TGO, LIFT, Bike & Trekking and NORR magazines)
The Târnava Mare landscape is one of the last great high-nature landscapes surviving in lowland Europe. Its many valuable habitats have evolved in association with traditional low-impact agriculture, and they harbour a vast diversity of flora and fauna including many threatened species. It is also an amazing historic cultural landscape: 800 years of management by Transylvanian Saxons is still visible in well-preserved villages and fortified churches. This landscape depends on the survival of the small-scale farming communities who created it and who manage it today. Despite 85,000 hectares being declared a Natura 2000 site in 2008, the region is under great pressure from poverty and abandonment due to lack of economic prospects, and migration of young people to the cities in search of work. The ADEPT Foundation carried out a pilot project in 2011, demonstrating how a mountain bike network can be a catalyst for multiple benefits to the local economy, and therefore to the surrounding landscape, by attracting visitors to the area. Under this proposed project, ADEPT will work with locals to build 15km of mountain bike trail, linking 3 villages and involving 70 green tourism providers, 5 schools and hundreds of small-scale farming families. The project will also develop and promote a tourism strategy for the area so that results are sustainable in the future.
Restoring High Altitude Habitats for the Snow Leopard, Indian Himalaya (nominating member Dynafit, chosen in conjunction with Alpin Magazine)
Snow leopards are one of the most endangered of the big cats and only 3500-7000 remain in
the wild. India is home to the third largest snow leopard population in the world, and the Upper Spiti Valley’s underdeveloped alpine habitat has been identified as one of the most important snow leopard habitats in India. An estimated 10,000 tourists visit this area annually to experience the landscape and many hope to see signs of snow leopards. The goal of this project is to help communities safeguard the delicate Upper Spiti ecosystem and its wildlife while continuing their traditional way of life. This will be achieved by keeping 25 square km of steppe grasslands free from livestock to allow snow leopard prey to recover, an insurance scheme requiring farmers to safeguard the leopards and compensating them for livestock lost to the leopard predation, and eco-camps for local school children focusing on local wildlife and conservation.
Protection and Restoration of critical Orangutan Habitat, Southern Borneo (nominating member Fusion Clothing, chosen in conjunction with National Geographic Germany)
The Sabangau tropical peat-swamp forest is one of the most important rainforests found on Borneo. It is of major conservation importance for its high biodiversity, including the orangutan and other endangered species, which local and international travellers trek to view. This area is under massive threat from conversion, swamp drainage and continued illegal logging and wildlife hunting. This results in out of control fires and permanent damage to the peat ecosystem, threatening the orangutan's survival. This project will restore areas of peat swamp (highly valuable as a carbon store) within the area damaged by logging and fires, replant burnt forest areas, and enable community patrol teams to protect the forest and its orangutans from the threats they face.
All of the projects remaining on the shortlist will now go to the members-only vote, enabling the 92 corporate members of EOCA to vote for their favourite projects and select more to receive funding from the association. All projects to receive funding from EOCA in this funding round will be formally announced at the OutDoor trade show at Friedrichshafen on Thursday 11th July.