A revamp of Environment Southland’s Environmental Enhancement Fund (EEF) will mean easier and timelier access to funding for Southlanders restoring the region’s biodiversity and a better understanding of its ecological diversity.
At the Regional Services Committee meeting on Wednesday, council approved changes to simplify the EEF grant approval process, and allow staff to approve grants of less than $5000, while bigger grants would be at the discretion of an EEF Selection Panel. They also approved criteria that widened the scope of eligible projects to include those which restore badly degraded areas or create new pockets of biodiversity, and would prioritise community groups who need ongoing project support.
“These changes reflect the importance of the work farmers and community groups are doing and are designed to make the process more efficient and more accessible to the public,” said Biodiversity Programme Leader Ali Meade.
“Currently, some applications experience delays, which occur due to council meeting schedules. Having to wait can really dampen the enthusiasm of applicants who are generally raring to start work on their restoration project.”
The EEF was set up in 2011 to assist landowners and community groups in protecting and enhancing indigenous biodiversity on private and community owned land in Southland. It funds activities such as fencing, pest animal and plant control and native restoration planting.
Environment Southland encourages biodiversity for its contribution to the health and resilience of the region’s ecological heritage. Biodiversity is included in the Long-term Plan as one of our ‘Big 3’ priorities.
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Environment Southland has allocated $40,000 to the fund from 1 July to 30 June each year with the grant contributing up to 50% of project costs. Applications are welcome any time of year however applications received between April and June may be carried over into the new financial year to give applicants time to complete works within the same year the grant application was lodged.