EOCA enables European expansion of The North Face Explore Fund

The European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) is delighted to announce that it is working in partnership with The North Face (TNF) to support the brand’s grant funding programme for conservation projects in Europe

The TNF Explore Fund aims to create access and drive equality in the outdoors by funding non profit organisations around the themes of Enabling Exploration and Loving Wild Places.  Having met with extraordinary success in the United States, the TNF Explore Fund is expanding its funding across Europe and has turned to EOCA to help find suitable conservation projects with a lasting legacy.

Julian Lings, CSR and Sustainability Manager for The North Face said, ”The Loving Wild Places part of the Explore Fund is all about valuing wild places for the mental and physical benefits they bring – and therefore protecting them and looking after them so that those opportunities are available for everyone, now and into the future.  We are thrilled to be working with EOCA to find some really exciting projects to fund.  The Association has been working in exactly this area for the last 13 years and its knowledge and experience in funding, assessing and managing this type of conservation work is invaluable.”

EOCA will be looking at organisations working in the UK, Germany and Italy and once projects have been shortlisted, the The North Face employees in those countries will get involved in choosing which projects they would like to see funded.  Tanya Bascombe, Joint General Manager of EOCA added,” This is a fantastic opportunity to show what kinds of projects are out there, and to be asked to help The North Face in their search for their prestigious Explore Fund shows how well regarded the projects that EOCA funds are.   The North Face automatically becomes a Summit Member of EOCA through its funding of the projects it chooses.  It has also generously signed up to become a Sustaining Member, thus helping to finance the running of the association, and we look forward to many more fruitful years of cooperation together”.

EOCA Conservation Funding Reaches €3 million

This March thousands of outdoor enthusiasts joined European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), and it’s members, to participate in it’s annual spring public vote. As a result of the public vote and also the members private vote, six new conservation projects have been selected for EOCA to support. With almost €150,000 being pledged to these six projects, this also marks a new milestone in the history of EOCA – the funding of €3 million in vital conservation projects around the world!

During this spring vote, 43,637 votes were cast resulting in the selection of three new conservation projects for EOCA, and it’s members to support. In addition, EOCA’s members voted to select a further three projects. For this funding round only, all six of these projects will tackle EOCA’s ambitious new focus targeting plastic pollution – to collectively clear 3000km of habitat, trail and beach of plastic waste and pollution over the next two yearsThat is the distance from the Mediterranean coast to Lapland! EOCA is making a great start to this target by supporting almost 1000km through these six projects.

As well as addressing current plastic issues and their threat to a habitat, landscape or species, each of these six projects will also have a link to outdoor enthusiasts, work with and benefit local communities, involve an educational element, and leave a legacy. All funds are raised by membership fees and fundraising monies coming from the European Outdoor Industry. EOCA holds two funding rounds per year, with the second round taking place in autumn.

Last month EOCA also launched it’s new public fundraiser to help EOCA, and it’s members reach this two year focus of clearing 3000km. The project, part of Surfrider Foundation Europe’s ‘Ocean Initiatives’ programme will work to raise awareness and educate thousands of people through waste collection and clean-up events. EOCA is calling on individuals and companies to donate via their website to fund this ambitious project.  Every €10 donated via EOCA will help fund an area of 50 metres squared – the area of two olympic sized swimming pools! – of clean-ups.  Please see the donate button on www.outdoorconservation.eu or www.eoca.de .  There is also the option to go onto www.oceaninitiatives.org to find a clean up event to get involved in.

Cat Barker, Conservation Project Coordinator said “We are very proud to have reached a new milestone in funding €3 million in conservation projects following another successful funding round. We are yet again amazed by the number people getting involved in the voting process and it is fantastic to see the public involvement, as well as the time and dedication projects put into it. These six projects will focus on one of the biggest topics in current conservation issues, plastic pollution. The projects, and EOCA’s public fundraiser project will make great inroads toward achieving EOCA’s ambitious new target to clear 3000km of plastic waste and pollution over the next two years. And, of course, all of this is only possible with the continued funding and support given by EOCA’s membership.”

The six projects selected during the spring vote are:

Bird Watching to Reduce Plastic Pollution, Brazil

Nominated by: Pertex

The Lagoa do Peixe National Park (LPNP) protects migratory birds. The area is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, with 273 bird species registered in the Park. The main tourist activity is bird watching, focused on the threatened species. The main threats to birds and endangered marine fauna are plastic waste pollution, ingestion, and damage to the natural landscape through the accumulation of debris on the beaches. Through this project, Instituto Curicaca will focus on reducing the plastic contamination in the habitat of endangered birds and other threatened animals, through clean up events, education and training. A workshop for teachers and local bird watching guides, a photographic exhibition highlighting the problem, clean up events and diagnosis of waste collected, awareness raising amongst fishermen regarding net disposal and the production of waste management plans for the local municipalities will involve more than 700 people, including school children, locals and visitors. The project aims to change the habits of the community via 20 beach cleans to clear 20km of beach and their surrounding habitats of plastic waste.

Campaign for a plastic free Ria Formosa, Portugal

Nominated by: Paramo

Ria Formosa is an extensive 18,000 hectare lagoon system with sandflats, mudflats and saltmarshes, protected from open sea by a long, thin belt of sand-dunes called barrier islands. The 5 barrier islands and 2 peninsulas are separated by 6 inlets connecting the lagoon to the sea. This is an important area for wildlife, particularly birds, indigenous plants, seahorses and fish. Since rubbish produced by residents and the increasing numbers of tourists is a serious threat, our project focus on the conservation of the shoreline, protecting marine animals and preserving the environment for nature lovers, water sports enthusiasts and hikers. EOCA funds will expand the annual clean-up to 11km carried out by RTV-aECO – Responsible Tourism Volunteer – Ocean Research and Conservation Association by adding an underwater clean-up.  Funding will also enable an awareness campaign to tackle the problem at its source, targeting non-sustainable behaviours such as plastic consumption and littering. To engage tourists, residents, fishermen and students there will be photographic exhibitions in the main cities of Olhão and Faro, art installations made with the rubbish collected, in-store communications in selected supermarkets and shops as well as a digital campaign to broaden the campaign’s impact. 

Jaizkibel-Ulia Clean Up, Spain

Nominated by: Ternua

The coast of Jaizkibel and Ulia is one of the best conserved coastal stretches of the Basque Country with spectacular hilly and rocky landscapes attracting hikers, runners, bikers, climbers, divers and fishers. There are many species of fauna and flora of European interest, and endemic species. The inaccessibility of the cliffs has attracted important colonies of seabirds as well as nests of raptors and scavengers, many of them threatened. The rich marine bottoms and intertidal environments host one of the most important populations of the Gelidium algae of the Basque coast.  Dolphins and other cetaceans often visit this coast to feed. Marine litter affects habitats, species and ecosystems leading to serious risks for humans and wildlife, through exposure to chemical substances, lethal or detrimental effects due to ingestion, as well as entrapment of marine fauna and other animals. Through this project, Itsasa Gela-Aula del Mar will: clean the riverbed that leads to the study area, as well as cleanings creeks, seabeds and removing floating debris; raising awareness of the natural value of the area, plus the issues and solutions.   Education workshops will introduce alternatives to and reduction of consumption for different sectors of the population and visitors. 

The Himalayan Cleanup, India

Nominated by: Grangers

Nominated by: Grangers

The Indian Himalaya is part of a global biodiversity hotspot with a high percentage of protected and community conserved areas, as well as being an important source of water for millions of people. Due to ever-increasing tourist footfall and changing consumption patterns, plastics have entered the remotest mountain environments where the terrain makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible to retrieve and/or dispose of plastic waste. Lack of awareness leads to burning of waste, dumping down hillsides or into streams and rivers.   Wildlife including red pandas and black bears consume plastic through food left in plastic packaging. In 2018, a Himalayan Cleanup across the 12 mountain states mobilised 15,000 volunteers across 200 sites, sorting and recycling waste and making ecobricks from non recyclable plastics.  Integrated Mountain Initiative’s will run the Cleanup day again, alongside other community clean up events raising awareness locally as well as amongst the travel, transport and tourism sectors. A workshop will be held with government and CSO stakeholders to discuss sustainable waste management strategies and keeping key habitats clean, underpinned by results from a waste audit. 

ECO Relief, Lesvos, Greece

Nominated by: Proagencies Ltd

The island of Lesvos is perhaps best known for the many species of migratory birds that find shelter in its ecosystem. Nature-lovers are captivated by the biodiversity of the island’s wetlands, rivers and rich chestnut forests that are perfect for hikes, mountain biking and bird watching. Life jackets, rubber dinghies, outboard engines and the waste generated by thousands of refugees arriving on the island mount up on its beaches, polluting habitats on the cliffs and shore. The situation is compounded by items discarded by the local population, as well as by general commercial waste washed up by winds and currents. Following on from Lighthouse Relief’s successful 2018 programme, their objectives in 2019 is to clean approximately 32 km of coastline and 50 km of trails, which constitute an important aspect of the natural beauty and appeal of the island. A special focus will be placed on recycling, as well as on community- and school-based involvement and educational activities to reduce overall plastic use. A series of events will encourage participation in beach-clearing, recycling and upcycling initiatives.

Montaña Limpia, Latin America

Nominated by: The North Face Italy Srl

Since 2013, Acceso PanAm has engaged climbers, hikers and local communities to give back to the mountains via an annual mountain clean-up event. Poorly planned visits and tourism in mountainous areas is leading to increased amounts of discarded litter, harming the environment, threatening wildlife and polluting habitats and water sources with everything from picnic waste, to camping and technical equipment in mountain environments.  The Montaña Limpia (Clean Mountains) campaign runs simultaneously across a number of countries in Latin America and has been gaining in momentum and popularity.  In 2019 the aim is to have 30 events happening across 6 countries with over 600 volunteers cleaning over 300km of trail, from tropical areas to mountains over 6000m altitude. Funding will help take the communication and education to the next level by developing an app to engage younger people who are increasingly disconnected to the mountains, as well as helping record data on the types of trash found, the impacts on habitats and wildlife and offering educational and waste collection resources to help events.

New Public Fundraiser for EOCA

As part of its newly-launched focus on plastic clean-up, the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) has launched a public fundraiser to raise money to help reduce single use plastic.  The project, part of Surfrider Foundation Europe’s ‘Ocean Initiatives’ programme will work to raise awareness and educate thousands of people through waste collection and clean-up events.

Plastic pollution is found in mountains, around crags, in rivers and lakes, forests, coastlines and oceans, impacting disastrously on wildlife and blighting every type of habitat and landscape enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts.  It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds are killed every year through entanglement or by ingesting plastic litter.

As an organisation raising money to look after the health and well-being of the planet, EOCA is committed to playing its part in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  SDG 14 (Life Below Water) is one of those highlighted by EOCA as of utmost of relevance to its own vision and new focus as it aims to “prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution”.

With this in mind, EOCA will work with its members and the European outdoor industry to reduce their use of everyday single use plastics, whist also raising awareness through the organisation of clean ups to educate people on how to stop plastic waste from getting into wild habitats from the summits of mountains to the depths of the oceans.  The headline target is that EOCA and its members will collectively clear 3000km of habitat, trail and beach of plastic waste and pollution over the next 2 years.  That is the distance from the Mediterranean coast to Lapland!  Whilst EOCA’s public vote is now underway to select its first conservation projects for 2019, the association has also launched this public fundraiser to raise further money for and get involved in another vital project.

Since starting in 1990, Surfrider Foundation Europe has placed the problem of marine litter at the heart of its mission. The overall objectives of its ‘Ocean Initiatives’ programme, which has been running for almost 25 years, are to limit new waste generation, promote a circular economy for 100% of generated waste and limit the impact of existing waste in the environment. EOCA funding will help organise at least 1600 public clean-up events, expanding into new areas such as in-ocean cleans, mobilising 60,000 people in 47 countries, and educating 100,000 people. Data on the number and type of collected items from 1195km of beaches, lakes, rivers and seabeds all over the world will fuel scientific research and underpin lobbying of the EU for stricter targets on the reduction of waste and pollution entering our oceans.

EOCA is calling on individuals and companies to donate via their website to fund this ambitious project.  Every €10 donated via EOCA will help fund an area of 50 metres squared – the area of two olympic size swimming pools!- of clean-ups.  Please see the donate button on www.outdoorconservation.eu or www.eoca.de .  There is also the option to go onto www.oceaninitiatives.org to find a clean up event to get involved in.

EOCA Conservation at ISPO: Fundraising and Forwards to the Future

Munich covered in 25cm of snow proved to be the perfect platform for EOCA as it launched its new 2 year focus and raised €19,000 for conservation during ISPO 19


Thanks to the generosity of EOCA’s members, the Conservation Fundraiser boasted its largest number of items yet – with offerings from hammocks to skiwear, mugs to climbing harnesses and everything in between.  In addition, Bergans of Norway, Klean Kanteen and Ternua held fundraisers on their stand to benefit EOCA.  With a generous top up from ISPO, EOCA was delighted to raise a total of €19,000 during the 4 days of the show!  100% of this will be spent on the conservation projects EOCA supports this coming year.

In addition, EOCA was delighted to welcome four new members into the Association. Premsons based in India who are proud to say that they make the world’s largest range of zero carbon footprint sports bottles, Tarrago who creates high tech products to maintain, clean, waterproof and care for outdoor apparel and footwear, Brettschneider Fernreisebedarf, who sell mosquito nets and repellents including mosquito nets from recycling polyester and MIZU selling reusable stainless steel bottles, mugs, cutlery and straws all designed to reduce single-use plastics – ‘protecting where we play’, all signed up during or shortly after the show.   EOCA looks forward to working with them to benefit conservation in the coming months and years.

During the show, EOCA was also delighted to launch its new 2 year focus: Plastic Free, Mountain to Sea.  The focus, which will run alongside the Association continuing to fund a broad range of conservation projects worldwide, will enable EOCA and its members to play their part in addressing the critical issue of plastic pollution in the great outdoors.  The headline target for the focus is that EOCA and its members will collectively clean 3000 km of habitat, trail and beach of plastic pollution over 2 years.  The focus was launched during the show to members at an extraordinary meeting, to the wider industry during the EOG industry breakfast, and to the press at EOCA’s happy hour. 

“The focus was received extremely positively during the show” said Catherine Savidge, Joint General Manager of EOCA. “We had a new company, Premsons, sign up to EOCA membership before the show had even started, having learned of the new focus.  In addition, we had a range of companies come to the EOCA stand over the course of the show to discuss membership specifically because the new focus resonated well with their mission and they agreed with the urgency and relevance of the issue for the outdoor industry.  We very much look forward to welcoming new members into EOCA in the coming months to work with us and our existing members to deliver this work.”  Existing members also approached EOCA with exciting initiatives to support the focus.  One example is the plan of Walkingontheweb to walk the Grand Traverse of the Alps (GR 5), cleaning up litter on the way.  You can follow their progress on Twitter @walkingontheweb and their blog at www.walkingtheGR5.co.uk

The European Outdoor Conservation Association’s (EOCA) future vision 2019

I am and will be supporting EOCA’s vision whilst out on practice walks and on the Grand Traverse of the Alps and reporting on the amount of litter I find on the way.

EOCA’s vision: The outdoor sector and the millions of people who enjoy the great outdoors are active champions for the conservation of nature and wild places is about taking responsibility for our planet’s environments and being involved in looking after them.  Since EOCA started in 2006, the environmental, political and social arenas have changed drastically and created an era of global uncertainty.  It is therefore vital that EOCA evolves accordingly, addressing the environmental issues facing the outdoor sector.

The outdoor industry is a values-led industry, which needs to define very strongly what it believes in and how it is working to achieve that.  In terms of conservation and sustainability, the industry must make a stand and speak out for the protection of landscapes and wild places, which are not only its enjoyment and passion, but also its livelihood.  This is a central part of the outdoor industry; this is what EOCA stands for and EOCA believes it is its responsibility to act – with and on behalf of the outdoor industry.

As part of this evolution to become a more prominent organisation and following on from the success of the 2 Million Tree project – which set itself the ambitious target of raising enough funds to plant 2 million trees around the world – the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) is delighted to be launching its new focus:  Plastic Free: Mountain to Sea.

300 million tonnes of plastic are produced annually globally, 8 million tonnes of which enter the oceans each year.  80% of marine plastics originates from land sources – impacting on all habitats and wild places and threatening wildlife, food safety, human health and contributing to climate change.  The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) considers plastic marine debris and its ability to transport harmful substances as one of the main emerging issues affecting the environment.

Plastic pollution is found in mountains, around crags, along and in rivers and lakes, forests and beaches impacting disastrously on wildlife and blighting every type of habitat and landscape enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts.  Ultimately, a lot of the plastic waste will find its way to lakes and rivers and ultimately end up in the oceans.  100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds are killed every year through entanglement or by ingesting plastic litter.

With this in mind, EOCA will work with its members and the European outdoor industry to clean up plastic waste from habitats from the summits of mountains to the shores of the seas, whilst also reducing their use of everyday single-use plastics.  This will be in conjunction with educating and inspiring outdoor enthusiasts to get involved to combat the issues.

The spring 2019 round of projects funded by EOCA will fund conservation charities to carry out waste clean up projects around the world.  Meeting EOCA’s usual funding criteria, these projects will raise awareness about the issues of plastic waste, educate and train people to reduce their use of it, work with local communities to address a specific threat caused by the plastic waste, have a link to the outdoor enthusiast and leave a legacy once EOCA funding comes to an end.  Not just cosmetic exercises, these projects will have longer lasting impacts, changing attitudes and behaviour.

EOCA will coordinate a calendar of clean up events and activities that companies are organising themsleves, and that companies and consumers alike can get involved in.  These could be general beach cleans or clean ups targeted at specific activities such as mountain races, trails to climbing crags or rivers and lakes used by paddlesports.

Working with its members and the outdoor industry, EOCA will provide guidance to companies wanting to reduce their everyday single-use plastics – in their offices, at trade shows and by individual employees.  Companies will be able to sign up to pledges to commit to reducing their in house plastic waste.  This work will complement that being done by the Single Use Plastics Project being run under the umbrella of Retail Meets Brand an initiative of the EOG, looking at single use plastics in supply chains, as well as the EOG sustainability group and its work on microfibres, to make sure all areas of single use plastic are covered but not duplicated.  Meetings with ISPO on reducing plastics during the shows there are also planned with the Messe itself and a number of brands.

Engaging outdoor enthusiasts is another strand to this two year focus, which will be covered by the creation and communication of guidance to encourage the reduction in use of everyday single-use plastic in outdoor spaces and at home:  picking up litter when out in wild landscapes and getting involved in clean up events local to them.  EOCA will also work with IGOT and other organisations to promote ethical excerice, combining exercise and clean up actions, as well as relevant events through their communication channels.

As with EOCA’s 2 Million Tree Campaign, a public fundraiser will be launched to enable the public and brands to raise money and awareness of a specific project from EOCA’s current funding round, giving outdoor enthusiasts and the outdoor industry ownership of a particular project to donate to or fundraise for.

Finally, following on from the international bodies (such as the UN Declaration on Forests, The Hague Principles on Earth Trusteeship) interested in the work being carried out by EOCA on its 2 Million Tree Project, EOCA will work with and endorse a number of other organisations and initiatives during the 2 year focus to generate and share relevant information, increasing the impact that the outdoor industry has on this issue, raising awareness of what the industry is doing to address it and giving EOCA a louder voice on this global issue.

Just in case you haven’t heard of EOCA this is who they are

The European Outdoor Conservation Association is an initiative from the European outdoor industry with the objective of protecting the wild areas it cares so passionately about.

Designed to harness the incredible power of the outdoor industry and to raise money to donate to grassroots conservation groups, the European Outdoor Conservation Association is funded by membership and other fundraising activities within the outdoor industry. 100% of membership fees go to the support of projects. Membership is open to anyone that can demonstrate an involvement in the European outdoor industry.

From January 2015, a select group of ‘Sustaining Members’ have pledged their support to EOCA by committing to fund the sustainable growth of the organisation with an extra €10,000 per year for the next three years, over and above their annual membership fee.  This money will be used to finance the running of the Association and support its sustainable growth, also enabling a move to 2 funding rounds per year.

The seven EOCA Sustaining Members  are: OutDoor (Messe Friedrichshafen), Pertex, KEEN Footwear, Nikwax, ISPO (Messe München), Patagonia and the European Outdoor Group (EOG), which is also the Founder Member of the Association.

To find out more about the Association please go to: www.outdoorconservation.eu