ES inundated with requests for funding

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Fencing, pest animal control and monitoring tools, pest plant control, native plant propagation, native tree planting, and wetland enhancement had been funded through the Environmental Enhancement Fund.

ENVIRONMENT Southland (ES) has been inundated with people and groups asking for money for projects to protect and enhance biodiversity.

ES operations acting general manager Ali Meade said at a council meeting earlier in the month, it was fantastic there had been more applications than the council could give money for through the Environmental Enhancement Fund.

Presently, $40,000 was allocated for the fund but this year’s 22 applications totalled about $140,000.

“When we start with the new funding we will hopefully get approved, we’ll be able to really make some big differences with that programme.”

Last year, seven private landowners successfully completed projects, while one private landowner surrendered funding as they were unable to undertake any planned works.

Two private landowners and one community group had carried projects over to this financial year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

ES biodiversity team leader Mark Oster said applications ranged from several hundreds to several thousands of dollars.

A grant would only cover the direct cost of materials and labour used in the project and could contribute up to 50% of the project costs.

Work must be completed and invoices received within the same financial year the grant was approved.

The fund had been going for 10 years.

“In the early years of the fund, applications were very few; however, the number of annual applications has increased significantly,” Mr Oster said.

This was predicted to continue rising due to increased awareness of both the fund and valuing of improved biodiversity by landowners.

Examples of what had been funded included fencing, pest animal control and monitoring tools, pest plant control, native plant propagation, native tree planting, and wetland enhancement.

“Potential applicants can apply online or by contacting the Environment Southland biodiversity team. In some cases, free ecological assessments are available under our High Value Areas programme,” he said.

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