Poots announces opening of £2million environment funding boost

Date published: 04 May 2021

A £2million Environmental Challenge Fund, launched by Environment Minister Edwin Poots last week, is now open for applications.

The £2million Fund is available to not-for-profit organisations and councils to deliver natural heritage projects that support Covid-19 Recovery and Green Growth across Northern Ireland.

Grant awards of over £30,000 are on offer with the maximum amount of DAERA funding available under the competition normally being up to 85% of eligible project costs.

In launching the competition, Minister Poots said: “This funding means that the environmental work of organisations, many of whom have been hit hard financially during the pandemic, can be boosted as we move towards recovery from Covid-19. The passion of these organisations to improve our environment has not diminished and I have seen at first hand the levels of partnership working and volunteer enthusiasm within the sector. I have been highly impressed by the work that they do.

“The Fund will help us to continue to deliver DAERA’s strategic aims and those in the Programme for Government. It enables environmental ‘Not for Profit’ organisations to improve the condition of our habitats and species and build their resilience to climate change; support green growth and the preservation of our peatlands; improve the quality of fresh and coastal waters; enhance health and well-being through provision of access; and increase the understanding and appreciation and engagement with our environment.”

The key areas for funding under this competition are:

1. Nature Recovery: Building ecological and climate resilience


2.  Connecting People with the Environment:

The Department is currently managing a three/four-year Strategic Strand of the Environment Fund and this new Environmental Challenge Competition complements that.

Further information, including guidance notes and details of how you can apply for funding, can be found on the DAERA website.The closing date for applications is noon on Tuesday 1 June 2021.

Notes to editors: 

1.  The full eligibility and environmental impact priorities are:-

a) Nature Recovery: Building ecological and climate resilience

Projects may include:

large scale action towards the development or implementation of landscape scale nature recovery networks, which may encompass: 

  • Restoration of priority habitat, including terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats.
  • Improvement in the condition of Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs), designated sites and peatland habitats in the terrestrial, marine and coastal environment.
  • Creation of blue and green spaces that connect wildlife-rich habitats by acting as wildlife corridors or 'stepping stones'.
  • Recovery of threatened native species, including helping to reverse species decline.
  • Measures to tackle specific threats to the natural environment such as invasive non-native species, wildfires and ammonia.
  • Nature-based solutions, particularly for water quality (such as natural river or waterways protection and improvements) and climate change, mitigation and adaptation (such as increased natural shoreline resilience to address coastal erosion and coastal squeeze or resilient peatland habitats to address degradation).
  • Environmental surveying, monitoring and mapping where this will produce statistically reliable long term surveillance indices/data.
  • Production of data and case studies on the feasibility and application of habitat and species restoration and Nature Based Solutions in a Northern Ireland context.
  • Feasibility studies and development of strategic plans for future large scale delivery of these environmental outcomes to fill a gap in need.
  • Land purchase to help deliver the environmental outcomes outlined above.

b) Connecting people with nature

Projects may include actions contributing to:

  • Creation, improvement and maintenance of nature-rich core path networks, strategic routes, waymark ways and trails in urban and rural locations.
  • Improvements of outdoor recreation facilities, and provision of infrastructure to enhance accessibility for all.
  • Improvements to national or regional environmental education facilities.
  • Bolstering health and wellbeing through blue/green social prescribing.
  • Improving access to nature for under-represented groups.
  • Improving educational opportunities relating to nature, including for under-represented groups.
  • Volunteering, including the establishment of new local groups or greater public involvement within their organisation.
  • Strategic community engagement for environmental conservation and improvement.
  • Strategic development of citizen science for environmental conservation and improvement where this will produce reliable long term surveillance indices/data.
  • Production of feasibility studies, development of strategic plans, data, mapping and statistics on outdoor recreation and environmental education at a regional or sub-regional scale.
  • Essential short term maintenance, rangering and visitor management associated with the increased use of outdoor recreation routes within priority habitats during the Covid Pandemic.
  • Land purchase to help deliver the environmental outcomes outlined above.

2.  The maximum amount of Government funding available under the competition will normally be 85% of eligible project costs, except in exceptional circumstances.

3.  Applications can be submitted up until noon on Tuesday 1 June 2021.

4. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.

5. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office.

6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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