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Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced an £800,000 Environmental Challenge Fund Competition, to support environmental projects across Northern Ireland.

The Fund is available for not-for-profit organisations and councils to deliver key environmental priorities across Northern Ireland. It is envisaged that the majority of grant awards will be between £20,000 and £50,000 and that the maximum amount of Government funding available under the competition will be 75% of eligible project costs.

Launching the competition at Slievenacloy in the Belfast Hills, the Minister said: “The impact of Covid-19, alongside the difficult financial climate, means this is a great opportunity to support the work of local organisations who are passionate about improving the environment. I have seen at first hand the value of the work carried out by these groups and I have been highly impressed by the levels of partnership working and volunteer enthusiasm. I commend them for this work.

“The Fund enables environmental not-for-profit organisations to focus on the areas of environmental protection, improvement and monitoring of habitats and species; the quality of fresh and coastal waters and air; promotion of health, well-being, understanding, appreciation and action for the environment and access to the natural environment. It will help us to continue to deliver DAERA’s strategic aims and those in the Programme for Government.”

The key areas for funding under this competition are:

  1. Nature Recovery: Building ecological and climate resilience
  • Peatland (blanket bog, lowland raised bog, heathlands) climate change mitigation/adaptation measures;
  • Blue carbon habitat (saltmarsh, seagrass, kelp, shellfish beds etc.) climate change mitigation/adaptation measures
  • Nature Recovery Networks; and
  • Capital purchases essential for conservation.

2. Outdoor Recreation and Connecting People with the Environment:

  • Delivery of core path networks and strategic routes;
  • Provision of recreation infrastructure; and
  • Delivery of outdoor recreation data products essential to underpin decision making and action and information provision.

The Department is currently managing a three/four-year Strategic Strand of the Environment Fund and this new Environmental Challenge Competition complements that.

Further information, including guidance notes and details of how you can apply for funding, can be found on the DAERA website at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/environment-fund. The closing date for applications is noon on Tuesday 28 July 2020.