Highland Council announces extension of Nature Restoration Fund (NRF) application deadline

Children help members of the Abriachan Forest Trust carry out riparian vegetation planting
Children help members of the Abriachan Forest Trust carry out riparian vegetation planting

The Highland Council has extended the deadline for applicants to apply for a share of the 2022/23 allocation of Nature Restoration Funding to 9 September 2022.   

Established by the Scottish Government, the Nature Restoration Fund (NRF) is a capital fund designed to help support projects that will deliver nature restoration, safeguard wildlife, and tackle the causes of biodiversity loss due to climate change.

Chair of the Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Ken Gowans said: “Eligible applicants throughout Highland can apply for up to £25,000 towards nature restoration projects.  Last year, 27 community groups and organisations were successful in securing funding to deliver projects ranging from the creation of wildflower meadows, tree planting initiatives, wetland creation and removal of invasive non-native species”.

He added “we have extended the deadline to 9 September to ensure that as many applicants come forward with their project ideas. The expression of interest stage is only a 2-page document which asks for a brief description of the project and an outline of the costs the funding is to be applied for.”

This year, there is an increased focus on outcomes which address the main drivers of the decline in biodiversity on land and seas particularly rural biodiversity.  For example, where on land, over-exploitation of the natural environment and addressing its consequences, habitat loss and fragmentation, and removal of invasive non-native species.  To deliver this aim, the fund has four strategic themes:

  • Habitat restoration – management for enhancement and connectivity
  • Freshwater restoration, including hydrological change
  • Eradication of invasive non-native species impacting on nature
  • Coastal and marine management to promote restoration and resilience

The capital funding allocated to Local Authorities is to support new, or to enhance existing, approaches that further biodiversity and which adhere to the following criteria:

  • deliver positive effects for biodiversity and enhance local ecosystems
  • address the climate emergency and its impacts through mitigation and adaptation and by promoting nature-based solutions

Capital items that could form that basis for spend may include, but are not limited to:

  • Action for pollinators (equipment for maintaining wildflower areas or verges including planting)
  • Improving condition and use of Local Nature Reserves (purchase and planting)
  • Developing a local nature network through planting of wildlife corridors, removal of barriers to wildlife movement and pollinator planting
  • Greening active travel routes (purchase and planting)
  • Natural flood management actions such as connecting rivers with flood plains, pond creation, de-culverting, in-stream works for habitat and flow variability
  • Removal of invasive non-native species (INNS) to improve the biodiversity value of the remaining habitat
  • Habitat and species enhancement works using native stock, enhancing natural coastal defences through marram, addressing coastal squeeze.

All projects should be ready to start before the end of March 2023 and be completed by the end of June 2023.  NRF can only fund capital expenditure that directly enhances biodiversity.  Revenue costs such as project management are not eligible however labour costs to undertake the approved works will be accepted.

The minimum grant support available is £2,000 and the maximum is £25,000.

Applications are welcomed from constituted community groups; public sector bodies; charities; voluntary and social enterprises; co-operatives and community ownership initiatives; development trusts.

For full information and further guidance please visit – www.highland.gov.uk/naturerestorationfund

6 Sep 2022