Organisations and community groups across Scotland, who are running projects to do with managing and enjoying nature, are to benefit from a new online grants service.
The service, launched this week, is available on the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) website where customers can apply for a grant and access grant information and advice.
Projects will be given priority if they help engage people with nature, improve the management of nature and landscape, or create better places in the Central Scotland Green Network area.
Another priority is to improve the management of wildlife; for example, tackling problems of invasive non-native species before they get established will help Scotland to save money in the long-term.
Andrew Bachell, director of operations at SNH, said: “The natural environment is Scotland's most valuable asset. We need to look after it so that it helps to improve our health and quality of life as well as our economic prosperity.
“Supporting projects that help deliver as many of these opportunities as we can is an essential part of this work. We're keen to back projects that are innovative, targeted at key groups, such as young people, people with poor health and people on low incomes, and which address barriers to participation, such as poor health, age and lack of confidence.”
Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson, welcomed the new service. He said: "Scotland's nature and landscapes make a significant contribution to people's livelihoods, as well as their health and education. We are very keen to encourage more people and communities to become actively involved in looking after it. I very much welcome this new service which will make it easier for groups to apply for SNH funding, with a clear understanding of what the priorities are."
There are two types of grants available. Natural Project Grants are aimed at larger scale, longer term projects, of £10,000 and over. The deadline for these is 30 November 2011, with decisions by end of February 2012.
Community Action Grants will open for applications early in 2012. These grants are aimed at projects of 12 months or less, and between £1,000 and £20,000, that help get more people and communities involved in outdoor recreation, volunteering, outdoor learning, recording nature and biodiversity work. There will be no deadline for these applications as they can be received at any time.
The SNH grants service web page can be found at http://www.snh.gov.uk/funding/our-grants/