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 tense 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! 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.