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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Members Approve Funding Proposals and Commitment to Deliver 2023/24 Nature Restoration Fund  

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The popular Nature Restoration Fund (NRF) will return in 2023/24 and give Highland community projects an opportunity to apply for fresh funding to help sustain locally important habitats and species. 

The Scottish Government backed Nature Restoration Fund (NRF) grant scheme supported 25 projects in Highland last year and funding opportunities will be open to all communities across Highland again this year. 

The delivery of both the grant scheme and any subsequent projects delivered through the mapping scheme or call for projects across the Council estate will be met through the capital grant allocation for 2023/24. 

Applications for grant funding will once again be made to the Community Regeneration Team.

The Environment Team will continue to provide biodiversity advice to aid the assessment and scoring of proposals to ensure Scottish Government funding criteria are satisfied. 

Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Ken Gowans said:

“This scheme is directly targeted at safeguarding biodiversity and will address the climate and ecological emergency by supporting projects which mitigate and adapt to climate change and promote nature-based solutions.” 

The purpose of the scheme remains broadly the same as in previous years – to support new or to enhance existing approaches to restoring biodiversity. 

The 2023/24 fund has 5 strategic themes:- 

  • Habitat and species restoration 
  • Freshwater restoration 
  • Coastal and Marine initiatives 
  • Control of non – native species 
  • Urban – connecting nature across/between towns  

As in previous years the timetable for delivery of this fund is very tight and members at today’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee agreed to: 

  • Ringfence up to 50% of the fund to enhance biodiversity, map nature networks and deliver projects on council owned/managed land.
  • Continue to build on the findings and opportunities for enhancement identified by the Greenspace mapping project by working up, in partnership with the relevant service(s), fully costed and viable projects. 
  • Community Grant Scheme for Biodiversity – as in previous years promote a grant scheme for Highland communities, public sector and third sector to support the management, enhancement, and restoration of biodiversity.
  • Members agreed that up to 50% of the allocation is available for grants.
  • The 2022/23 grant scheme was very popular and supported 25 projects across Highland.

The global climate emergency and the nature emergency are twin reinforcing crises, the actions we take to address each are fundamental to our wellbeing and survival. 

Biodiversity in Scotland is in crisis due not only to the effects of climate change, but also changes in land use, over-exploitation, invasive non-native species, and habitat fragmentation. 

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