Scottish Natural Heritage is offering funds for ambitious and innovative ideas to improve habits, safeguard species and encourage increased access to nature.
The first year of the Biodiversity Challenge Fund (BCF) is now open, with up to £1m worth of investment available for 2019/20.
A further £1m will be available in future.
See also: For more on grants and schemes
Applications are being invited for large-scale projects that will require funding of between £100,000-200,000.
SNH says it would rather direct the money to a few large projects, as it needs them to be big enough to drive the level of change required to meet Scotland’s international biodiversity commitments.
Collaborative applications are encouraged, opening up the way for smaller landowners and organisations to come together to put forward proposals.
The fund will pay up to 100% of the cash costs of a project.
SNH says it is particularly seeking ideas that will help at-risk habitats and species, including mammals and birds, connect existing nature reserves and protected areas and tackle invasive species.
In terms of farmland, it says a priority would be to make more space for flower-rich habitats and grassland, streams, hedges, native woodland and ponds.
The sort of projects that might be appropriate for the BCF include:
- restoring a network of unimproved grassland sites
- delivering freshwater benefits such as riparian tree planting or increasing diversity of river channels
- enhancing diversity and creating deadwood to benefit insects
- woodland restoration and connectivity
- clearance of scrub/woodland/invasive species e.g. removal of plantation forestry to restore sand dune habitat
- managing hydrology e.g. restoring natural systems adversely affected by artificial drainage; or managing drainage in saline lagoons
- targeted removal of artificial coastal structure /defences to allow natural processes to recover.
The first stage of the application process is to submit an Expression of Interest and SNH will invite the most promising projects to submit a full application.
The closing date for full applications is 5 April 2019, with funding decisions due to revealed in early May.