The European Outdoor Conservation Association (Eoca) has just released its 2017 Annual Report, in which it summarizes the association's achievements last year. Eoca welcomed 13 new members in 2017: Blackyak, Bestway Europe, Ultralight Outdoor Gear, Proagencies, Wildo Sweden, PT Tasindo Tassa Industries, Frost Guiding Courses, Superfeet Worldwide, Pinguin, 333 Media, Bergstop, Moose – The Alpine Spirit, and WakaWaka. The association ended the year with 135 members and partners.
Also in 2017, Eoca's seven Sustaining Members agreed to continue their Sustaining commitment for 2018. The seven Sustaining Members are OutDoor, Ispo, Keen Footwear, Nikwax, Patagonia, Pertex and the European Outdoor Group, which was also Eoca's founder in 2006. Starting in January 2015, these seven members had agreed to a three-year commitment to finance the running of the association by donating at least an additional €10,000 per year on top of their membership fees, a commitment which was extended to 2018. Eoca is funded by membership and fundraising activities from the industry.
The association said it committed €360,000 to conservation projects during 2017, more than it has ever done in a single year before. Despite this, Eoca ended the year with more money in the bank than at the start of the year, its treasurer said. The association raised more than €37,000 at OutDoor and Ispo through fundraising activities last year.
In March, Eoca held its annual spring public vote. A shortlist of 14 projects from as many countries was showcased by three magazines, including The Great Outdoors in the U.K., Alpin in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and Norr Magazin in Germany. Readers of these magazines as well as outdoor enthusiasts were invited to vote for their favorite project in three categories. The project with the most votes in each category would be selected for funding. Outdoor Blogger Network (OBN), a member of Eoca, monitored the public vote for the first time, and their data recorded the spring vote by more than 60.4 million people. News of the vote appeared on social media, blogs, online media and print media, both in Europe and outside of Europe.
The reach of the vote far exceeded expectations, Eoca said, playing a valuable role in raising awareness of conservation issues. In addition to the public vote, a private vote for members was held in April, which was to designate a further three projects for funding. The six projects that were chosen through the two spring votes include: A new ecotourism for Thailand; Chittagong Hill Tracts Program in Bangladesh; Conserve and restore habitats for otters in Romania; Elephant monitoring and anti-poaching in Tsavo, Kenya; Restoring the peatland of the Flow Country in Scotland; and Cleaning up the river Mulde in Germany.
In addition to the projects funded by Eoca, four members of the association chose a specific conservation project to fund entirely by themselves. These members were Pomoca, Keen, Original Buff, and Osprey Europe. Their additional projects include: the Conservation of ringed seals at Lake Saimaa in Finland, chosen and funded by Pomoca; Restoring mangroves and livelihoods in Aceh, Indonesia, chosen and funded by Keen; the Heart of Scotland Forest Project, chosen and funded by Original Buff; and finally, Cleaning up the Alps, chosen and funded by Osprey Europe.