Community Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Equipment Fund

About the fund

Coastal communities, local groups and individuals around Scotland’s coast are well-placed to lead on the active stewardship of their marine environment. They have expressed a wish for greater participation in the surveying of their inshore waters and the collection of information and evidence that underpins marine management decisions.

Through the collaborative Community Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Project – a partnership between NatureScot, Fauna & Flora International, communities, groups and individuals with support from the William Grant Foundation – we aim to enhance participation in community collection of marine data through the surveying and monitoring of local inshore waters.

The Community Marine Monitoring Equipment Fund is a dedicated fund aimed specifically at supporting community and local groups with the purchase of marine survey equipment to participate in community-led marine biodiversity surveys and monitoring.

Group of people standing on shoreline copyright Cecilie Dohm

copyright Cecilie Dohm.

Fund aims

  • Provide communities and local groups with the resources and equipment to participate in biodiversity surveys.
  • Enable community and/or youth engagement in marine monitoring.

Fund use

  • Purchase equipment to be used for community-led marine biodiversity monitoring with a community and/or youth engagement element.

Fund details

  • Up to ten groups will be supported by the equipment fund in Spring 2021.
  • Individual grants will be offered up to £1,500. This should enable the purchase of entry level intertidal and subtidal kits (see equipment suggestions for ideas).
  • Larger grants up to £3,000 are available for joint applications from two or more groups/individuals. Larger grants should enable the purchase of more technical survey equipment for groups or individuals within a common geographical area.

Fund criteria

1. The fund is available to communities and local groups based in Scotland that would like to participate in marine biodiversity monitoring.

2. Surveys must help to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Connect more people with Scotland’s seas through participation.
  • Improve the skills, experience and knowledge of communities, local groups and individuals to participate in biodiversity surveys in Scotland.
  • Improve knowledge of marine species and habitat distributions around Scotland.

3. Surveys must demonstrate how they will engage communities and/or young people in marine monitoring.

4. Applications from all communities and groups must provide evidence of an active volunteer base. The application must be endorsed by three members/volunteers for individual applications. Likewise, joint applications must be endorsed by three members/volunteers per group.

5. Communities and groups may submit an application either individually or as a joint proposal. Simultaneous applications to the fund are not permitted.

6. This funding is for the purchase of survey equipment (this can include a budget for spare parts). No additional funding will be made available for repairs, maintenance or storage.

7. Groups must demonstrate an ability to maintain, upkeep and store the equipment.

8. Data collected using the survey equipment must be made freely available to others and submitted to appropriate marine databases when possible.

9. Groups must nominate at least one data representative per group. Data representatives will validate community data, participate in relevant training and contribute towards developing and testing the project’s data journey.

10. Grantees must be open to engage in knowledge exchange and give demonstrations of the equipment purchased through the fund to groups within their geographical area.

11. All grantees will be requested to submit a survey report within 12 months of receiving their grant, detailing survey activity. A survey report template will be issued with the grant award letter.

12. Surveys must adhere to Covid-19 government restrictions at all times. If surveys cannot go ahead because of restrictions, grantees must get in touch with NatureScot staff at to discuss options.

Who can apply?

Providing the applicant can meet the fund criteria above, applications are invited from organisations, including community and local groups, registered charities and trusts. Where applications are received from partnerships or organisations working collaboratively, a lead applicant must be identified.

Applications from the following groups will not be eligible unless applicants can clearly demonstrate strong links to, and benefits for, communities and the community has been involved in the development of the proposed surveys:

  • Local authorities and other public sector organisations
  • Academic institutes
  • Private individuals and companies (only eligible where there is significant public benefit)

We have provided an eligibility checklist on the application form to help you assess if you are eligible to apply. Please note that surveys which do not meet the eligibility criteria will not be considered further.

Fund guidelines

  • Funding applications will undergo a decision making process, considering the geographical spread of groups, equipment and funding granted on a project-wide scale. Applications will be reviewed by a panel against the fund criteria and fund aims.
  • Funds will be paid to grantees upon a successful application. The funds must be spent as agreed within 60 days of receiving the funds, unless otherwise agreed, and proof of purchase must be submitted to
  • If grant funds are not spent as agreed, NatureScot reserves the right to request repayment of any grant.

How to apply

Please submit the completed application form, community survey profile form, plus any further information you deem relevant to 

Applicants are very welcome to contact us to discuss ideas before submitting an application to the fund.


Launch of fund/Opening date for applications - 24 March 2021
Closing date for applications - 23 April 2021
Application decisions - 10 May 2021
Funding offers issued and accepted - 24 May 2021

Equipment suggestions

Within £1,500 grant budget:


  • Surveyor level
  • ID guides
  • Transect tape
  • GPS device
  • Quadrats


  • GoPro
  • GoPro Diving Housing
  • Underwater WIFI cable from Cam-do in lengths 20ft, 125ft and 300ft. Alternatively, the cable can be homemade using an auxiliary cable. You can find instructions on the GoPro Underwater Wi-Fi cable setup online.
  • Tablet/surface interface
  • Glass bottom underwater viewer
  • ID guides
  • GPS Device

Other ideas:

  • First Aid and safety equipment
  • External hard drives for data storage
  • Clipboards, etc.

Between £1,500 and £3,000 grant budget

  • Drop-down video (DDV) system
  • Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)
  • For example, blue robotics have ROVs which can be adapted into a DDV system.


Partner logos Fauna and Flora Foundation, William Grant Foundation


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