After an online public vote and subsequent members’ vote, the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) has announced the newest conservation projects it will be supporting this year, including two major projects in the UK.
In line with its current Plastic Free: Mountain to Sea focus and its target to clear 3000km of habitat, trail and beach of plastic waste and pollution, all projects concentrated on the removal of plastic pollution from wild areas, in tandem with education and awareness-raising strategies to change habits and practices to stop it getting there in the first place.
With nearly 44,000 votes cast for the 14 shortlisted projects over a two-week period, three projects were chosen by the general public in an online vote, which was also hosted by Mountainblog.eu and Mountainblog.it. A further three projects were chosen by EOCA members:
Paddling, Cleaning, Teaching, Aprender, Brazil: will raise awareness of the issues of marine plastic pollution amongst local communities and schools as the project travels down the Atlantic Forest Protected Coastal Area on stand up paddleboards. Some 1000km of beach cleans, activities and events en route will raise awareness and engage 10,000 people to get involved in coastal and marine conservation.
Fishing Plastic: Magdalena River Clean-Up, Fundacion Colombia: This will focus on the cleaning of the main lagoons and beaches in the Chocó-Magdalena-Tumbes Biodiversity Hotspot, through nine ‘Fishing Plastic’ events over 40km. The project will work with fishing villages to improve waste management, run workshops for schools, and plant 5,000 trees to benefit local primate species.
Plastic Free Woodlands, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, UK: Plastic guards are critical to enabling young trees to survive, yet there are now millions of single-use plastic tree tubes littering the UK landscapes, which are disintegrating and polluting soils and waterways. This project will remove redundant tree guards over eight hectares for reuse or recycling, engaging communities and volunteers in tackling the problem, and trialing a number of alternatives.
Stop the Alps becoming Plastic Mountains, Italy: The aim of the Alp project is to safeguard high alpine habitat, by working with mountain huts to eliminate single-use plastic items and develop procedures which can then be shared and implemented with other huts. The project will organise 15 clean-up events to clear 150km of trail and mountain habitat and educate alpine guides, park staff, local schools, and the tourism sector.
Clear the Bay by Day, Morecambe Bay Partnership, UK: Morecambe Bay is the largest intertidal area in the UK, and a national biodiversity hotspot, but an epidemic of personal protective equipment is adding to an ever increasing amount of plastic pollution. The project will work with sporting groups to eliminate single use waste from events and carry out 42 clean ups along 210km of beach, cycleway and trail, involving local groups, visitors, and organisations.
Dos Manos, Save the Med Foundation, Spain: The Balearic Islands are a popular tourist destination and a hotspot for marine biodiversity in the Mediterranean, which is increasingly affected by plastic pollution either through ingestion or entanglement. This project will organise 527km of land and sea clean-ups involving tourists, volunteers, outdoor companies and schools. Workshops will help highlight solutions to plastic pollution issues.
Working in collaboration with The North Face, EOCA has also helped find three projects for the company to support through The North Face Explore Fund, which successfully launched in Europe last year. The 2020 projects are as follows:
Purposeful Adventures, Trash Free Trails, UK: will run 100 clean-up events over 1000km for riders, runners and hikers, involving over 4,000 people during Autumn Litter Watch and Spring Tour de Trash campaigns.
Explore with Purpose, Planet Patrol, Germany: combines 18 litter picking events with water-based adventure activities along rivers and watercourses, encouraging people to get active, whilst simultaneously protecting nature from the harmful effects of litter.
Mountain Clean-Up, Summit Foundation, Italy: will organise 7 clean-up events in mountainous areas of northern Italy, seeking to engage with and educate those taking part about the impact of litter on wildlife and habitats.
A further four projects are being funded by EOCA Summit Members this year:
Conservation of Ringed Seals, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation – this is the fifth year in a row that POMOCA has funded this organisation, to conserve this threatened population of freshwater seals
Cleaning up the Wadden Sea, Stichting Duik de Noordzee Schoon, The Netherlands – funded by KEEN, this project is running diving expeditions to clean up this World Heritage area of the North Sea following the loss of a large number of containers and cargo from the MSC Zoe in 2019.
Fell Care Days 2020, Friends of the Lake District, UK – conservation days to empower communities to look after their local landscapes around the Lake District National Park, funded by Smartwool
The Tarkine Wilderness Project, Bob Drown Foundation, Australia – Ortovox is funding the creation of an app to help promote the value and significance of this wonderful wild area in an effort to protect its forests from logging.
Tanya Bascombe, Joint General Manager of EOCA said: “It is very exciting to be able to announce some good news, despite everything that is going on around the world at the moment. Each of these projects are undertaking vital conservation work in the fight against the tide of plastic pollution we are all causing, tackling the issues at source and working to stop it getting there in the first place.”