A new environment fund aimed at making it easier for people to connect with the natural environment has been launched this week by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
David Small, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), said the Environmental Challenge Competition will also provide capital funding to projects working to protect habitats.
“I am delighted to announce this £400,000 funding boost which will not only help improve our health, support our environment and precious habitats, but also support jobs within the sector.
“We will be looking for applications from not-for-profit organisations and local councils for projects that will provide new paths and recreation infrastructure such as walking trails or a greenway route. We also want to hear from applicants wanting to purchase land essential for the management of our priority habitats and species or for recreation infrastructure. We are also interested in the creation of data products, particularly for outdoor recreation, that will use technology to improve access to the outdoors and encourage greater participation,” he explained.
“We want to deliver a living, working, active landscape valued by everyone and this new fund provides a great opportunity for local organisations, who are passionate about the environment, to help us do just that. I am always impressed by the levels of partnership working and the enthusiasm of volunteers in the sector and look forward to viewing their applications,” he added.
Mr Small said he expected the Environmental Challenge Competition to be oversubscribed and advised applicants to ensure they fully consider the eligibility criteria and environmental impact priorities before applying.
The announcement is part of DAERA’s wider Environment Fund and follows the launch of the 2019-22 Strategic Strand earlier this year..
DAERA will provide up to a maximum of 75% of the overall funding for the project with the minimum overall project cost set at £20,000. The maximum grant awarded for any individual project will be £50,000.
The key areas for funding under the new environment challenge competition are paths and recreation infrastructure; land purchase that is essential for the management of priority habitats and species or recreation infrastructure plus the creation of data products, particularly for outdoor recreation.