Following 74 project applications for funding this year, National Geographic Germany, Alpin (Germany), TGO (UK), Lift (Netherlands), Bike & Trekking (Netherlands) and Wider (France) all published details in their magazines and online to encourage their readers to vote for their favourite project in three separate project categories: nature, outdoor and alpine.
Wolves - Karel Broz (Hnuti Duha)
The public vote across Europe reached over 4 million consumers via print, online and social media. 100,000 unique visitors came directly to the EOCA site and a massive 55,263 votes were cast to help choose which projects would receive funding. The voting was nail-bitingly close at times - at one point in the nature category, there were only 400 votes separating the top 4 projects! A single post from the winning project from the outdoor category (Surfers Against Sewage) on FaceBook reached a staggering one million people!
Three projects were chosen in this way by the public. This was then followed by the EOCA member vote to choose a further three projects:
Tough EU Action on Marine Litter (Nominated by Patagonia, chosen by EOCA members)
The marine environment has become engulfed in marine litter, severely impacting marine species and habitats. The international network ‘Seas at Risk’ aims to directly influence the Marine Strategy Framework Directive process, the only European legislative instrument designed to protect the marine environment and reduce marine litter.
Restoration of the Kaiserjoch Trail, Austria (Nominated by Vaude, chosen by EOCA members)
An urgent project due to a huge rockfall that destroyed a major footpath in the Austrian Alps. Due to the constant danger of further rockfall, the trail needs to be re-sited on the opposite side of the valley, taking care to keep hikers away from sensitive areas, protecting wildlife.
Mountain Clean Up (Nominated by Keen Footwear, chosen by EOCA members)
Respect the Mountains organises clean ups, so called 'Envirotreks' each year in different locations in several countries to bring together locals and volunteers to clean up a mountain recreation area or ski resort after the snow has gone (locations in 2012 in France, Austria, Germany, Netherlands and the UK).
Coastal Protection Activists, UK (Nominated by Smartwool, chosen in conjunction with TGO, Wider, Lift and Bike& Trekking Magazine)
To involve and educate local communities in the protection of their coastal environment through beach cleans, talks and environmental action on marine and coastal pollution via the training of a network of regional representatives.
Kaiserjoch - DAV Sektion Leutkirch
Steall Gorge Path Repair (Nominated by Patagonia, chosen in conjunction with Alpin Magazine)
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Heavy use and exposure to severe weather is causing serious erosion, damaging sensitive habitats and threatening to make this spectacular trail, through the Steall Gorge to Britain’s second highest waterfall, impassable. Work will be carried out to combat the damage and strengthen future weak spots.
Conservation of Large Carnivores, West Carpathians (Nominated by Rockpoint, chosen in conjunction with National Geographic Germany)
The main objective of the project is to protect populations of large carnivorous mammals (wolf, lynx and bear) in the Beskydy and Kysuce Mountains in the Western Carpathians. This will take place by protecting migration corridors through land purchase and land restoration, guarding against hunting and trapping and a public awareness campaign.
This year, Nikwax decided to find and fund its own project that fitted with its ethos and ideals. Having checked the project fitted all the required criteria, EOCA will now manage the project in-house, checking it is meeting all its aims and objectives, meaning that Nikwax can have a very tailored environmental giving programme, but without needing extra internal staffing resources:
Landscape Dynamics in Sagamartha National Park (chosen and funded entirely by Nikwax)
This PhD study will examine ongoing landscape transformation to assess the impact of change on things such as water provision. It will provide insights into what drives land use change and what this means for the sustainability of the region, generating adaptation strategies specific to the National Park.
Finally, Original Buff, S.A. will again entirely fund a further three shortlisted projects, meaning a total of 10 vital nature conservation projects will be funded in 2012:
Mountain Forests in the Catalan Pyrenees (nominated by Patagonia)
Mountain forests of the Pyrenees are one of the largest protected areas in Europe, including threatened species, habitats and endemic plants. This are is very important for hikers, skiers and climbers and the project will run 8 volunteering weeks involving path and habitat restoration, forest thinning, wildlife surveys and bio-engineering against erosion.
The Eternal Valley, France (nominated by Messe Friedrichshafen)
This beautiful, wild valley in southern France, containing over 55 endangered species and housing 7 pure water springs is seeking permanent protection through Natura 2000, as well as bringing more visibility to the valley. 100% non-profit wild honey dedicated to wilderness protection will be produced and paths restored.
Into the Meadows, UK (nominated by Snugpak)
This project seeks to restore degraded meadows in the Yorkshire Dales, one of the last UK strongholds for traditionally managed, upland hay meadows, seen as one of the scarcest and most threatened habitats in the EU.
Further details of each of the projects can be found here.