During 2016, EOCA is celebrating being 10 years old! Ten years of the European outdoor industry funding conservation work in the great outdoors. In that time, the Association has funded work in over 36 different countries around the world, making a real difference to threatened habitats, species and landscapes.
As part of EOCA’s celebration of its tenth year, a series called ‘Ten Faces of EOCA’ will feature on our website throughout the year. These ten faces will be people who have been key to the success of the Association, or people who represent key partners of the Association. It may even be the face of a species that has benefited from the Associations work! Its going to be tough to choose only 10!
In 2011, Spanish company Original Buff, S.A., designers and manufacturers of neck and headwear, decided to join EOCA. Nature, especially the mountain, is not only the place where it all began for Buff®, but it is also their reason to be. Their aim is to develop accessories that enable people to enjoy nature no matter what the climate conditions. Being nature lovers, it was obvious to Original Buff, S.A. to support conservation work.
From day one, they told EOCA that they wanted to give more than simply the membership fee. They had decided that they would like to set up an environmental giving programme whereby EOCA found, vetted, and then monitored conservation projects which Original Buff, S.A. could fund from 1% of the proceeds of particular lines of merino wool Buff®. This was a first for the Association, but has become a free service that EOCA now offers to other member companies looking to fund specific projects, utilising the experience of EOCA to ensure that their money is spent on the most appropriate and worthwhile projects. EOCA is hugely grateful to Original Buff, S.A. for initiating this environmental giving programme which is now known as ‘Summit Membership’ of EOCA. Original Buff, S.A. chose EOCA for this partnership as they felt EOCA was one of the most international and recognized organizations working for the conservation of the environment, with solid and relevant expertise.
Original Buff, S.A. began its commitment in 2011 by funding three entire projects through EOCA, boosting the funding capacity of EOCA by 30% in that year. Celebrating this new partnership at OutDoor in Friedrichshafen, a spokesperson for Original Buff, S.A. said “ Working hand in hand with EOCA we feel is the best way to keep our balance with nature. We are very happy to be supporting these three projects through EOCA who offer us a simple way to channel our funds to projects making a real difference in the great outdoors”.
The projects chosen over the years by Original Buff, S.A. to fund have been vary varied. They have included an ecotourism project in Iceland, footpath repair in Wales, meadow restoration as well as red squirrel conservation in England, and two years worth of forest restoration in the Spanish Pyrenees. Original Buff, S.A. chose the projects from the shortlist of projects drawn up by EOCA biannually from all applications submitted in their funding rounds. Each year, Original Buff, S.A. had a clear idea about which countries they wanted to fund projects in, and the kinds of projects that interested them. They particularly liked projects focussing on nature conservation generally rather than specific species. And they found funding projects in regions where Buff® are sold particularly rewarding. By choosing projects from the shortlist, they were assured that the applications had already passed through EOCA’s stringent list of criteria, overseen by a panel of Scientific Advisors to ensure that the projects deliver sound conservation benefits.
We are delighted to announce that Original Buff, S.A. has committed funds to put into further projects during 2016/17 and will be helping EOCA achieve its target to fund the planting of 2 million trees. Elisabeth Torras, who instigated this partnership said “ We are delighted to be able to continue working so closely with EOCA, putting more money into conservation work. Trees play such an important role in the conservation of landscapes, habitats and species, so we are delighted to be able to utilise EOCA’s expertise once again, and to help them reach their ambitious target.”
By intiating the Summit Membership programme, Original Buff, S.A. provided a significant boost to the amount of money EOCA was able to channel into conservation projects. In addition, they also paved the way for other companies to follow suit and also fund whole projects through the Association. Other member companies have funded projects from EOCA’s shortlist as Original Buff, S.A. did. Others have requested that EOCA find them particular projects in certain countries or focussing on the conservation of particular species or habitat which are of particular interest to them. A successful service provided free of charge to the members. Original Buff, S.A. has therefore played a significant role in the development of EOCA and made a big difference to the amount of conservation work delivered on the ground.
You can read all about the projects that Original Buff, S.A. have funded since 2011, together with the projects funded by other Summit Members HERE