November 9, 2021 EOCA Announces Conservation Recipients
The votes have been cast. Meet the three projects that received the European Outdoor Conservation Association’s Autumn 2021 funding!
Twice each year, the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) calls out on anyone with an interest in nature and the great outdoors to help the association choose which projects it will fund. In line with the association’s current two year focus, Wild for Nature; EOCA’s Landscape Legacy Project, all projects on this fall’s shortlist dealt with tackling biodiversity loss in extraordinary landscapes around the world.
The autumn voting has now closed – here are the three winners that span the globe:
Conserving Namibia’s endangered desert elephant population
Namibia’s desert elephants are one of two desert elephant populations worldwide, surviving the extreme conditions of Namibia’s arid northwest where annual rainfall averages 150mm. As a keystone species, the elephants’ presence in the desert helps ensure the survival of other species that rely on their feeding habits, water-digging abilities and seed dispersal. They also generate revenue from tourism and create jobs for rural communities.
The population has decreased to fewer than 150 today however, mostly due to human-elephant conflicts (HEC) over water supplies, loss of habitat, and increasingly dry conditions. The group of elephants that Elephant-Human Relations Aid (EHRA) follows has had a 100% calf mortality rate since 2015, and as a result of drought, has moved out of their core range into greener but more human-dominated areas where many were illegally shot.
This project will incorporate this larger area into its HEC mitigation programme including elephant- focused training and education, protecting human water sources, and understanding the elephants’ migration routes over 1.8m hectares. The ancient elephant migration routes will be protected by installing 3 wildlife water sources and ensuring access to required food and nutrients, and an Elephant Corridor Tourism project to increase the perceived value of elephants to farmers.
Restoring forests in Vietnam
This project will conserve 630 hectares of natural forest in Van Ho district, Vietnam, home to a diverse range of threatened flora and animals, including the Northern white-cheeked Gibbons.
The forest lacks proper legal protection, and is degraded and fragmented by traditional slash-and-burn practices. Van Ho natural forest is managed by an ethnic minority people group who are dependent on the forest and are motivated to protect it, only they lack the resources. PanNature will implement interactive reforestation activities with local communities and tourists, who are the most common forest visitors. School children will help make and disseminate 45,000 seed balls over 100 hectares of forest, in exchange for books and stationery. Local forest management groups will set up and run the community nursery, which will supply 10,000 seedlings of indigenous tree species for local youth and women to reforest 20 hectares, and 2,000 seedlings for tourists to integrate reforestation in their forest trip. The project will contribute to educate and change local behavior, conserve valuable tree species, maintain the gibbon’s population, ensure local livelihoods – providing a foundation to create the first legally recognized community forest model in Vietnam.
Blue renewable energy to restore coral reefs in Indonesia
Gili Eco Trust has been replenishing and restoring damaged coral reefs in Gili Matra marine park in Lombok, Indonesia, using different restorative methods for almost 2 decades. “Biorocks,” an artificial limestone material formed when a small electric current is passed between underwater electrodes, in particular have shown remarkable success in enhancing coral growth and increasing reef resilience.
Using low voltage electricity, usually from main grid or solar panels, this project will use a uniquely designed ocean turbine to use marine currents as a renewable source of energy. A hectare of Biorock will be installed, with coral fragments attached to aid growth, recovery and ultimately replenish fish stocks and biodiversity. An underwater art gallery made from repurposed glass bottles, designed by Canadian artist Ben Von-Wong will be installed in shallower water not only to accommodate further habitat but to provide a unique attraction for snorkelers and divers to boost eco-tourism activities and income in the area, to experience marine life renewal in action and to take an extraordinary underwater selfie.
Exceptional voter turnout for conservation projects
EOCA puts 100% of its membership fees into worldwide conservation projects that are then implemented by the conservation organizations themselves. The process begins with each EOCA member nominating up to three projects for each funding round, as well as individual conservation organizations applying directly for funding. A shortlist is then drawn up and two votes are held – one with members and the other to the general public – where the winning projects receive the funding. According to EOCA, this year’s voter turnout did not disappoint.
“In total, EOCA received over 67,000 votes to help it chose 3 projects to fund from its carefully selected shortlist during this public vote,” shares Catherine Savidge, General Manager at EOCA, who continues:
“As these 3 worthy winners are implemented, they will make a huge difference to biodiversity and local people, engage outdoor enthusiasts and also contribute towards mitigation and adaptation to climate change. EOCA is honored to be able to fund them thanks to the ongoing support of its members, and very much looks forward to seeing the progress made as the projects are implemented.”
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.
Photos: Provided by European Outdoor Conservation Association