The EOCA cash will help restore peatland near Forsinard. Photo: Eleanor Bentall/RSPB Images

The EOCA cash will help restore peatland near Forsinard. Photo: Eleanor Bentall/RSPB Images

A scheme to restore an area of the Flow Country in northern Scotland will receive cash from an organisation funded by the outdoors industry.

The peatland restoration project, west of Forsinard in Sutherland, is one of six to receive a grant from the European Outdoor Conservation Association.

Three projects were chosen by a public vote and three by members of EOCA. The Flow Country project was nominated by Mountain Equipment. Grants of up to €30,000 are available under the scheme.

An EOCA spokesperson said: “The Flow Country is a stunning blanket bog in north Scotland. This globally rare habitat is home to many special animals and plants including golden eagles and sundew.

“It is also the largest terrestrial carbon store in the UK. However, conifer plantations from the 1970s and 80s are drying out the peat, causing carbon release into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change, and reducing habitat for wildlife.

“RSPB Scotland is working with partners to restore areas of bog in the heart of the Flow Country and EOCA funding will transform 3.64ha of the Dyke plantation by felling the trees and blocking drains, thus raising the water table and allowing the bog to be restored naturally.

“Within 10-20 years, the area will become a world of amazing wildlife once more, a place to be inspired by peace and space, and an essential carbon store, helping to tackle climate change.”

The Flow Country project was the only one in the UK to receive funding under the spring round of EOCA grants.

Other recipients included three voted for by the public: a project to conserve and restore habitats for otters in Romania, nominated by the OutDoor trade fair; a new ecotourism scheme involving elephants in Thailand, put forward by Ferrino; the Chittagong Hill tracts programme in Bangladesh, also nominated by Ferrino.

The other projects chosen by EOCA members were Elephant Monitoring and Anti-poaching in Tsavo, Kenya, nominated by Chrissy Dorn Business Development Outdoor & Sports; and a scheme to clean up the River Mulde, Germany, nominated by Ortlieb, who also provided additional funding.

In addition, Osprey Europe also funded a project to clean up the Alps from discarded items including ammunition, barbed wire, live shells and abandoned ski stations. Keen provided cash for a mangrove restoration to improve livelihoods in Great Aceh Regency, Indonesia, and Pomoca gave a grant for a project to conserve ringed seals in Lake Saimaa, Finland.

Catherine Savidge, joint general manager at EOCA, said: “We are thrilled this year to be able to support more conservation projects than ever before.

“All the projects in the shortlist deserve and need funding and so it is a pleasure to be able to facilitate the funding of these nine projects, thanks to the generosity of EOCA members. We also trust that the huge reach of the public vote benefits all of the other projects on the shortlist and perhaps brings them the extra recognition and support that they need.”

The European Outdoor Conservation Association was set up by the European outdoor industry to help protect the wild areas it cares about.

Its role is to raise money to donate to grassroots conservation groups and is funded by membership and other fundraising activities within the outdoor industry. 100 per cent of membership fees go to the support of projects. Membership is open to anyone that can demonstrate an involvement in the European outdoor industry.

A group of ‘sustaining members’ have also pledged their support to EOCA by committing to fund the sustainable growth of the organisation with an extra €10,000 per year for three years, over and above their annual membership fee. This money is used to finance the running of the association and support its sustainable growth, also enabling a move to two funding rounds each year.

The seven EOCA sustaining members are: OutDoor (Messe Friedrichshafen), Pertex, Keen Footwear, Nikwax, ISPO (Messe München), Patagonia and the European Outdoor Group, which is also the founder member of the association.

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