Friday, 27 May 2011

Landfill Community Fund Basics 1 The Biodiversity Project

LCF Category DA - The Enhancement and Conservation of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is important. People at the very top are deeply concerned about biodiversity, mainly because human civilisation depends upon the ability of nature to provide goods and sevices. Unfortunately human activity is slowly but surely damaging the earths capacity to process pollutants, pollinate our crops, provide us hundreds of other services that we take completely for granted. Whilst there is a lot of talk at the top end of the social spectrum, there seems to be an unwillingness for everyday people to engage in biodiversity conservation on a local level. Biodiversity loss is sensationalised until it would seem that theres not much we can do about it. Be it rainforest habitat loss, the melting of the icecaps or the impending extinction of the white rhino, there is always the under pinning feeling that biodiversity is something that is happening a long way away, and is outwith the common persons control. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. Biodiversity is the responsibility of everyone as we all benefit from natures services, without which, humanity would be in deep trouble.

I’m sure that everyone will agree that Scotland is a beautiful place in the main, with a rich and diverse history, culture and natural heritage, However, Scotland’s biodiversity is subject to all the stresses and strains of the 21st centuary – Species and habitat loss due to construction and industry, pollution and invasive species to name but a few. Bearing in mind that it is everyones problem,  there are actions that we can do, and when I say we I mean the partnership implicit between Falkirk Environment Trust and the people of Falkirk.

FET, as you know, Awards Landfill Community Fund (LCF) grants to community led environmental  projects. One of the areas of these awards are biodiversity. To quote Entrust;

“Where it (ie the project) is for the protection of the environment and subject to paragraph (3A)
below, the conservation or promotion of biological diversity through:
(i) the provision, conservation, restoration or enhancement of a natural habitat; or
(ii) the maintenance or recovery of a species in its natural habitat
- on land or in water situated in the vicinity of a landfill site;’
(Extract from Entrust Guidance on Object da) – Click here for access to the full Entrust library of documents

Sounds fairly easy, but actually Biodiversity and habitat projects carry a few complexities that can trip up the unwary applicant. I have examined a few of these below.

The Board of FET are especially interested in biodiversity projects in the Falkirk Council area, and want to see more good quality applications coming forward. Here are a few pointers to get you going.

1)      Community Led - Application must be from groups, charities or non profit organisations. We will not fund projects brought forward by individuals, or that will in anyway benefit a business or land owner. You must be part of a group with constitutional documents, a bank account and a committee of volunteer decision makers
2)      Habitats vrs species - The above guidance shows that you can create, conserve or enhance a whole habitat, for example a woodland, river system or hedgerow are all good candidates for a category DA grant. OR you can apply to help a single species, such as bean geese of greater crested newts. Either way the Habitat or Species MUST be named in the Local Biodiversity Action Plan. Click Here to link with this document.
3)      Take advice - Always talk to the biodiversity Officer at Falkirk council with reference to your project who can advise you of the next steps to take. Do this BEFORE you make an application.
4)      Wild life Surveys - You will almost certainly be required to perform a “Phase 1 Habitat survey”, to advise the project on what is at the site already, and what you can and cannot do there. Funds allowing, FET is able to financially assist in this  type of thing through it’s Small grants scheme.
5)      Be Concise – a lot of applicants put elements of work into their applications that are in fact Category D, ie Public Amenity works such as paths or structures. It is best to avoid this if only because it confuses Entrust and slows up the project registration process.
6)      Legal Restrictions - There are laws to protect the natural environment, and as such you must be sure to follow these to the letter. Again talk to the Biodiversity officer, or Scottish Natural Heritage’s Forth Area Officer.
      Click Here for the SNH’s Forth valley area contact details.
7)     Management and Maintenance - in many situations a site may need to have a management plan drawn up, or may need to be maintained in some way over time. Applicants should think in terms of the site being an ongoing concern rather than a one off "Hit". Organiastions exist which can help with these issues, and as always, when in doubt, contact FET.

The list shown here is by no means exhaustive, but is meant to give you a taste of the kind of thinking and planning that you will need to engage in to get money for biodiversity projects

So if you are concerned about biodiversity in the local environment, or about a habitat near you that needs some help, there is help at FET! Give me a call or drop me a line and let me know what your plan is, or even just your biodiversity concerns for a local site.

All the best for now

Art Berg

Tel 01324 504816

Note – In all instances contact the development manager before you attempt an application for either small grants or main grants programmes

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

First entry and a few announcements

Hello to everyone reading this entry - the first of the Falkirk Environment Trust Blog. The purpose of the blog is really to enable FET to get information out to all interested parties as quickly as is possible. That information can be anything and everything about FET, it's partners, applicants, Landfill Community Fund or FET Small grants. I also reserve the right to post up items & links that might increase the ability and desire of  the readership to perform community led environmental projects.

So onto business:

First announcement comes from the Board themselves, who have decided to re-instate the "only up to 50% of the total required costs " rule.  The idea is that applicants should seek out other sources of money to share the burden and risk with our organisation. To assist applicants I will include links to other funders in future posts and standing documents.

Second announcement for todays entry - again the board wish me to inform all potential applicants that they will not consider making an award of more than £50,000 per grant. This is effective immediately and applies to any main grants application not already allocated through a board decsion. It does not affect small grants for the time being.

Combining these two announcements, applicants can only approach FET for an amount of £50,000 if their project is worth £100,000 or more.

The above are linked to our third announcement, which is one of THANK YOU for helping FET to achieve it's biggest year to date. Record breaking in both number of projects allocated (at 21) and amount allocated (at £679,000).

 I cant go into detail about the projects because not all of these are registered or assured of final delivery at this stage, but early indications show that we've had an excellent year in 2010/2011. .

To my mind the best aspect of FET's year has been an unprecedented allocation share going to smaller community groups this. This happy trend has been building for the last two years. Please keep those community group applications coming.

And Finally I wanted to put out some information on our forthcoming Board of Directors business meetings, as follows;

Summer         22nd June             FET Board Field Trips and Business meeting

Autumn          28th September   AGM & Business meeting

Winter            14th December    FET Business meeting

As always applications are strictly 3 weeks in advance on the appropriate meeting date for forms, enclosures and business plans. This gives me time to prepare the necessary reports and documentation

Thats all for now, so thanks for taking the time to read this. I will hopefully be in touch on a regular basis with news and further announcements

Art Berg