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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Five Organisations Have Been Awarded Funding From The Second Round of The 2023/24 Highland Nature Restoration Fund

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Five organisations have been awarded funding from the second round of the 2023/24 Highland Nature Restoration Fund.

Chair of the Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Ken Gowans said:

“I would like to congratulate the latest successful organisations. 

“With the new approvals, a total of 11 nature restoration projects are about to embark on a series of works that will see improvements to our local nature networks. 

“All of this supports the ultimate goal of protecting our environment against the harms of Climate Change where we are experiencing huge biodiversity loss.

“This negative impact must be reversed and through this fund, we can take local action, whether big or small, to protect our Highland ecosystems.”  

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.

Grants between £2,000 and £25,000 are available for community groups and organisations to bid into for projects that meet the eligible criteria. 

The 2023/24 Nature Restoration Fund has three decision making rounds where applicants can apply for funding. 

Projects approved during the first round include the restoration and creation of several new wildlife ponds; ash die back removal and tree planting initiatives; creation of wildflower meadows and the removal of rhododendron which is an invasive non-native species. 

Successful applicants in this latest round include the Butterfly Conservation who are to receive £16,115 towards their ‘Saving Threatened Sand Dune Lepidoptera at Nairn Dunes East’ project.

Dr Tom Prescot, Head of Butterfly Conservation Scotland said:

“We have been very fortunate in being awarded NRF funding again this year. 

“The Highland Council’s NRF funding has been instrumental in saving two threatened butterflies species, Small Blue and Dingy Skipper, at Logie Quarry on Balnagown Estate near Tain. 

“The work funded much needed scrub clearance by contractors to allow the caterpillar food plants of both species to flourish and the butterflies subsequently responding positively. 

“Without Highland Council’s funding the two butterfly species are likely to have gone locally extinct.

“This success was recognised by the project being a finalist in Scottish Land and Estates Helping it Happen Conservation Awards. 

He continued:

“We hope to see similar results with this newly funded project where we will remove scrub and spread native grassland and wild-flower seeds at various locations along the sand dunes East of Nairn. 

“The aim is to enhance and restore the habitat for the Dune Lepidoptera butterflies, this rare and threatened high priority species, to flourish once more. 

“We hope to see the Greyling, Small Blue, Lunar Yellow Underwing, Portland Moth and the Black Isle Groundling numbers to increase a result of this work. 

“Through our ‘Species on the Edge Project’, we will run a volunteer work party to help clear some of the more scattered scrub areas that is not viable to clear mechanically.”

Cllr Ken Gowans added:

“There is still time to apply for Highland’s share of the 2023/24 Nature Restoration Funding. 

“The next round of approvals is likely to be the last opportunity for applicants to submit their proposals before the fund will close. 

“The deadline to submit applications to the final round is by 29 January with approvals announced during mid-February.  

“There has been positive interest in the fund, but we’d like to encourage applicants to take this opportunity to make a difference. 

“The application form is light touch to complete with the main questions centred around biodiversity outcomes.

“100% intervention rate is available meaning that applicants do not require match funding. 

“Please refer to the website for key information, funding dates and to download a copy of the application form.”

Deadline to submit applications is 29 January 2024

For full information please visit here or email the Nature Restoration Fund Team if you’ve any queries before applying –  NRF@highland.gov.uk.

 Round 2 funding awards:

  • Stratherrick & Foyers Community Trust Limited – Biodiversity Group – Habitat Support in our Community – £17,900
  • Butterfly Conservation – Saving Threatened Sand Dune Lepidoptera at Nairn Dunes East – £16,115
  • Skye Connect – Meall na Suiramach Habitat Restoration Project – £25,000
  • Wick Development Trust – Wick Riverside Biodiversity Improvements – Phase 1 – £6,319
  • The Boleskine House Foundation SCIO – Freshwater Pond Restoration – £9,400
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