During June, EOCA received 85 applications for funding from non-profit organisations around the world. All of these applications were scrutinized and assessed against a well-established list of criteria for EOCA funding. A shortlist was drawn up of the projects most exactly meeting the requirements of the Association, which include the need to address a threat to a habitat, landscape or species, have a link to outdoor enthusiasts, work with and benefit local communities, involve an educational element and leave a legacy. This shortlist was reviewed by the Association’s panel of Scientific Advisors, all experts in a different area of conservation who kindly fulfill this role voluntarily. Each and every project in the shortlist is vitally important and EOCA would be happy to fund any of them. Sadly, the funding is not available to fund them all and so the final list of projects to receive funding is selected through 2 votes. An online public vote was held, in conjunction with Mountain Blog to select 3 projects for funding, followed by a vote of the members only to select a further 2.
During the public vote, 26,000 votes were cast supporting the projects, and the combined reach of this vote and a similar vote during the spring has conservatively been calculated at over 48 million people. A number of well known celebrities and leading naturalists got involved in the vote this autumn. One project received a hand written letter from Sir David Attenborough supporting their project and wishing them luck. Chris Packham, Sir Chris Bonnington, Julia Bradbury and George Monbiot all got involved in the UK supporting the vote and calling for people to get involved. Involvement in the vote brings many benefits to all of the projects in that it increases awareness and support of their projects on an international platform.
Catherine Savidge, Joint General Manager of EOCA said “As results were announced, EOCA was thrilled to see one of the projects and the Association itself being discussed in the Scottish Parliament, where EOCA was described as a ‘A Major European Funding Award’. You can watch a very short clip we have taken of the much larger discussion HERE.*”
The vote brings the total amount of money put into conservation bodies by EOCA and its members, including its Summit Members during 2018 to over €333,000. This is funding 14 projects across the world, 9 of which are in Europe.