The Environment Fund is administered by DAERA to support projects which will help deliver key environmental outcomes across Northern Ireland.

The Fund contributes to 4 Environmental Impact Priority areas:

  • National, EU and International commitments and draft Programme for Government (Tiered)
  • Evidence and Coordination actions
  • Outdoor Recreation actions
  • Northern Ireland wide projects/strategic environmental engagement

The DAERA Environment Fund 2018 Funding Priorities can be downloaded below. Please click on the tabs on the right for further information. This fund supersedes the previous DAERA Environment Fund 2015.

General information

The Environment Fund is always oversubscribed. Successful projects will be those which, alongside existing and other proposed activity, will most effectively help to achieve the priority areas we have identified. These are outlined on this web site and in the Environment Fund Funding Environmental Impact Priorities document.

There are 3 Strands to the Environment Fund:

  1. Multi-year Strategic Environment Fund
  2. In-year Environment Fund including; Ulster Way and NIEA Properties and Land Purchase
  3. Environmental Challenge Competitions

1. Multi-year Strategic Environment Fund

The Strategic Environment Fund programme is OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS from eligible organisations. The overarching Eligibility Criteria is: A single grant application may be submitted by not for profit organisations or councils which will deliver measurable key environmental outcomes at a Northern Ireland wide scale, sub-regional scale, river catchment scale, on or related to a designated site, or on EMFG owned/managed natural environment sites.

Environment Fund is currently closed to new applications

Please note:-

At 10am on Friday 15 June there will be an Environment Fund Strategic Strand information workshop in the Visitor Centre of Crawfordsburn Country Park. Potential applicants to the Environment Fund are welcome to attend (a single representative for an organisation) and should confirm attendance by 4pm Wednesday 13 June. Please confirm attendance in an email to

Pre-application and Full applications Stages

We recognise that to complete a full application is a lengthy process for applicants who apply for projects or parts of a project that DAERA is unlikely to fund. To reduce the administrative burden we have a two stage process. A light touch pre-application stage, where the projects or parts of projects that are of the highest priority for delivery under the funding available will be identified. The applicants who have demonstrated the eligibility and priority of their project will be invited to develop a full application for funding for the high priority elements of their proposed projects.

Applicants wishing to apply for the Strategic Environment Fund should read all of the Guidance Part 1 before beginning to fill in the pre-application form.

Bodies can submit a maximum of 1 application as a Lead Applicant. An application may include a number of distinct outcomes. Applicants can also receive funding as a partner helping to deliver specific outcomes identified in another organisation’s application. Where it is proposed that your organisation may also receive Environment Fund funding from another organisation that is applying as a Lead Applicant, this must be indicated in both your application and the relevant other application/s.

The Environment Fund grant budget is limited and this should be recognised when you are applying for this funding. It is unlikely that organisations will receive more funding than they received previously under DAERA funding in 2016-19.

DAERA will endeavour to give all projects independent advice in a fair and transparent way. Any advice that we give on these projects does not constitute support in principle for the project. There will be a secondary assessment process to approve or reject full applications, which will be assessed on their merits.

We will not consider applications for funding for projects which contain or focus on any of the following:

  • Delivery of outcomes outside Northern Ireland
  • Individuals who are not part of a constituted not for profit organisation.
  • Funding for commercial or profit making organisations
  • Funding which might constitute State Aid.
  • The costs of actions and associated management/staff costs that is targeted by other funding programmes (where these intend to provide adequate funds to deliver the outcomes) such as the Environmental Farming Scheme, Woodland Grant schemes, and national and European grants.
  • Work to manage the built environment or man-made (designed) landscapes, such as historic parks and demesnes.
  • Schemes where work has been completed.
  • Personal study or the pursuit of individual academic or professional qualifications.
  • Research and Development except where this is an integral part of the wider project.

How to apply for the Strategic Strand

1. The following documents are available to download on this website:

2. Read the EF 2018 Guidance Notes (Part 1) and EF 2018 Funding Criteria & Environmental Impact Priorities documents thoroughly to decide if the EF is suitable for your project.

3. Read the indicative EF Standard Conditions of Offer which outline many of the conditions you will need to comply with if you are awarded funding. You will need to consider the actions you will need to undertake to deliver on these considerations and any associated costs as part of your application;

4. Discuss your project proposal with a relevant member of DAERA staff. Contact details can be provided by Grant Team staff who can be contacted by email on or on 028 9056 9610.

5. Referring to the EF Guidance Notes Parts 1, complete the EF 2018 Pre-Application Form.

6. Submit the EF 2018 Pre-Application Form and any required accompanying information by e-mail to by the advertised closing date.

7. We will determine whether the project, or elements of it, may be a priority for funding and will invite full applications for the priority elements of those projects which together are assessed to best support the Department in the delivery of its priorities.

8. If the pre-application is successful you will be allocated a Client Officer who will discuss your proposal with you to maximise the opportunities for your project to help DAERA to meet its priorities and advise on completing the full application. They will also advise you whether there are other organisations who are undertaking similar projects with whom you should be working in partnership.

9. DAERA reserves the right to make an offer of funding that is different from the details or financial amounts that are set out in the applications.

If you have a query please contact the Grant Team:

DAERA Environment Fund
Klondyke Building
Cromac Avenue, Gasworks Business Park
Lower Ormeau Road, Malone Lower
Belfast BT7 2JA
Tel: 028 9056 9610

2. In-year Environment Fund

When sufficient budget may be available, In-year funding applications may be considered for high priority projects which could not have foreseeably applied to the Strategic Fund in 2018. Applications for these grants can be submitted by eligible organisations at any time after advice is sought from the Grant Team. The key areas where this funding may be considered include:

  • Ulster Way and NIEA properties

Grants for essential works to the Ulster Way and NIEA properties, such as essential maintenance and health & safety works.

  • Projects which would lever significant match funding

Projects which meet the priorities which require a small element of match funding to lever funds from other bodies such as Heritage Lottery Fund.

  • Land purchase

Grants for land purchase under the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (NI) Order may be considered for projects that will deliver significant conservation or access benefits. The applicant must show that:

  • The resource or feature cannot be effectively protected, enhanced or created by other more cost-effective means.
  • Their constitution enables them to buy and manage land, and provide public access where applicable and the proposal is within the applicant organisation’s strategic land policy priorities for land purchase and management;
  • They have the ability (resources and experience) to manage the site long term for conservation or access purposes.

If you propose applying for an Environment Fund In-year grant you MUST contact the grant team to discuss any possible application. If it is agreed that an application for in-year funding might be appropriate, the current electronic Application Form and Guidance Notes will be emailed to you for completion.

3. Environmental Challenge Competitions

When sufficient budget may be available, and the Department identifies emerging priority areas of work, focussed Environmental Challenge Competitions may be run to deliver the emerging priorities.

Funded projects under the 2016-19 Environment Fund 

How much can we offer?

The Environment Fund budget is limited. It is not expected that many organisations will receive more funding than in 2016-19.

DAERA will not provide funding of less than £15,000, so the minimum total cost of a project is £20,000.  The is no maximum total cost of a project, although we expect competition for funding to be strong and will be considering Value for Money in our assessment of applications.

You are expected to secure match funding for your project. We do not normally support projects at 100% of the project costs. Your match funding may be secured from a variety of sources such as other grants, membership fees, donations or volunteer support. The following are indications of our normal maximum funding levels:

  • Up to 75% of project costs
  • Up to 50% for outdoor recreation
  • Up to 50% for Council projects

Applications may be refused or offered a lower level of funding if there is insufficient budget or there are concerns about value for money or risks in delivering the outputs.

Contact Us

General Grant Queries

For information about the Environment Fund please contact a member of the team:

Grant Team Leader:

Maia Taylor - T: 02890 569621 E:

Financial queries:

Peter Turner - T: 02890 569610 E:

Terrestrial and Outdoor Recreation queries:

Niall McAleenan - T: 02890 569580 E:

Marine queries

Colin Armstrong - T: 02890 569235 E:

Fresh Water queries

River Basin Districts Team - T: 028 9263 3473 E:

A Client Officer for each funded project will be allocated in the letter of offer.

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