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? And that in just 5 short years, they have jointly funded over €860,000 of grassroots conservation?
EOCA raises money from subscriptions, donations, fundraising activities, and via its collaboration with the OutDoor show (OutDoor is a member of EOCA). Membership is open to any company operating within the outdoor industry, whether they are a manufacturer, supplier, service provider or retailer etc. One hundred per cent of membership fees go directly into the projects that are nominated by and voted for by the members themselves. So far the European Outdoor Conservation Association has renovated trails in Macedonia, Scotland and Nepal, funded research into climate change and the use of pesticides, protected a wetland bog in Ireland, planted a new ‘virgin’ forest in the Czech Republic, protected brown bears in northern Spain, saved an ancient forest in Sweden from logging and cleared rubbish from a mountain in Kyrgyzstan. And that’s just for starters!
There are currently nearly 70 members of the Association, stretching from Norway to India, from the Republic of Ireland across to the Czech Republic. Conservation organi-sations, which are nominated by Association members, can apply for grants of up to €30,000 for specific projects – not an insigni-ficant amount in itself, and mostly more than one company would be able to fund alone.
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 that get involved, the bigger the impact will be and the more difference the industry can make to the great outdoors that it depends on. So far there are only five years of work to show for it. Imagine what we could look back on after 10 years. Fifteen? What a difference we could have made. Just a drop in the ocean, you might say – but that drop is growing bigger every time a new member joins.