Nature fund open for new applications

04 December 2020

Additional funding is now available for transformational projects to improve habitats, safeguard species and tackle the causes of biodiversity loss, as the Biodiversity Challenge Fund opens its latest round.  

Scottish Government committed £3 million for biodiversity, including a further round of the Biodiversity Challenge Fund, earlier this year in its latest Programme for Government. The Biodiversity Challenge Fund adds to the many millions of pounds of funding delivered through the Scottish Rural Development Programme and other sources to support biodiversity and help to deliver Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy.

The Biodiversity Challenge Fund (BCF) specifically encourages applicants with innovative projects that improve biodiversity and address the impact of climate change, by increasing the resilience of our most at-risk habitats and species and creating large areas of new or restored habitat.

To date the Fund has supported over 30 ambitious, large scale projects with total funding now nearly £7m. New applicants for the latest round are being encouraged to follow in the trailblazing footsteps of projects such as:

  • More than 10,000 trees planted along riverbanks at the Gairn and Muick tributaries by the Dee Riparian Habitat project, bringing much needed shade, and nutrients such as leaf litter and insects for Atlantic salmon and freshwater pearl mussel, connecting and expanding vital habitats.
  • Scottish Canal’s creation of a floating wetland system at Glasgow’s Pinkston Basin, planted with over 3,600 native aquatic plants for fish, insects, amphibians, birds and mammals.
  • Froglife’s Come Forth for Wildlife project, which is creating homes and habitats for frogs and amphibians across Falkirk, with 33 ponds and scrapes, and 3 restored wetland areas.
  • Improvement of the pine hoverfly facility at the Highland Wildlife Park, 2020’s pine hoverfly season the most successful to date for these rare invertebrates, with over 170 larvae produced by the Cairngorms Nature Action Plan.

Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Supporting a third year of Biodiversity Challenge Funding is crucial to tackling ecological decline and further emphasises the importance that we place on biodiversity loss. It is only part of the approximately £100 million investment we make in biodiversity across the Scottish Government each year.

“This includes £150 million to help deliver a 50% increase in woodland creation by 2024 and an ambitious, ten-year, £250 million peatland restoration plan by 2025.

“This funding delivers multiple benefits, addressing particularly the twin crises of biodiversity loss and the climate emergency through support for innovative projects across Scotland.”

NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska added:

“During lockdowns people around the world have valued the direct physical and wellbeing benefits of nature. More than ever before, people are starting to understand fully and support powerful arguments to put nature at the heart of our emergence from this crisis.

“Investing in nature through the Biodiversity Challenge Fund is one, crucial way of helping make our communities sustainable and more resilient, with a green recovery that puts nature, and nature-based solutions, at the heart of rebuilding our economy.” 


The aim of the Biodiversity Challenge Fund is to enable targeted action for priority habitats and species, accelerating efforts that will help create transformational change to increase the biodiversity value of land and sea with a focus on nature based solutions to address the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Fulfilling a commitment initially made in the 2018 Programme for Government to establish a Biodiversity Challenge Fund, in summer 2019 NatureScot commenced administering investments of around £1.8 million to create and improve habitats for key species and encourage increased access to nature over the following 2 years. With a number of additional projects from the first round subsequently receiving funding offers and a second, £2 million  round running last year despite the challenged posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the latest announcement marks a boost to the total funding that has been made available to the Biodiversity Challenge Fund to around £7m.

The fund is supporting projects that:

  • Bring about transformational change to enhance the biodiversity value and wider environmental benefits of land or site(s) for example flood mitigation, drought alleviation or coastal adaption and resilience; and
  • Offer nature-based solutions to address the drivers of biodiversity change; and
  • Preferably, offer opportunities for skills development, training and/or jobs to help contribute to a more resilient workforce and the development of skills for the future; and
  • Make connections and link actions and/or projects, increasing impact and thus resilience in habitats and species most at risk.