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The work of the European Outdoor Conservation Association

Tanya Bascombe from EOCA gives us the low-down on the great work done in the UK and overseas:

As an outdoorsy type, I bet you probably consider yourself ‘Quite Interested’ in green issues and conservation?  ‘Treading Lightly’ – all that kind of thing?  Well did you know that across Europe, an ever-expanding group of outdoor brands and retailers raise money to put directly into conservation projects worldwide?  All are competitors in the market place – yet working together to protect our wild spaces.  And that in just 6 short years of existence, they have not only jointly raised and funded over €1 million of grassroots conservation projects, but are on track to have raised the second million by 2016?

So far the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) has renovated trails in Macedonia, Scotland, Austria and Nepal; funded research into climate change and the use of pesticides; protected wetland bog in Ireland; restored, planted and saved forests in the Czech Republic, Bolivia, Sweden and West Cumbria; created and improved valuable and threatened wildlife habitats for elephants in India, brown bears and wolves in Turkey, bumblebees and red squirrels in the UK, falcons in Bulgaria and cleared tonnes of rubbish from mountains worldwide.  And that’s just for starters!

Membership is open to any company operating within the European outdoor industry. 100% of membership fees, together with any other monies raised, go directly into the projects that are nominated and voted for by the members themselves. 

There are currently 120 members of the Association, stretching from Norway to Spain and from Ireland across to the Czech Republic. Conservation organisations, can apply for grants of up to €30,000 for specific projects designed to conserve specific species or habitats – not an insignificant amount in itself, and mostly more than any one company would be able to fund alone. 

Nikwax and EOCA

Nikwax has been part of EOCA since it first started in 2006.  Founder and Managing Director, Nick Brown, has been on the board since then and is currently Vice President and Strategic Advisor to the Association.  Its involvement in the association does not end there however:  on top of its membership fee, Nikwax is a regular contributor of items to fundraising sales held on behalf of EOCA, has organised events at trade shows to raise awareness of EOCA as well as further funds and has even undertaken to fund an entire conservation research project in the Himalayas through the Association, investigating the impact of land use on mountainous regions.

EOCA and You

Although EOCA in the main raises its funds for nature conservation projects from companies working in the outdoor industry, that does not mean that the general public cannot get involved.  Twice a year, there is an online vote to help choose which approved shortlisted projects EOCA will fund.  Anyone with access to the internet can join this vote, to have their say in where the money is spent.  You could also encourage any conservation organisations you know of to apply for funding in July or November.  And if you notice any of your favourite brands have not joined up yet…well I’m sure a gentle push in the right direction wouldn’t go amiss…!


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