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Call for Caithness communities to apply for environmental grants

By David G Scott

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The Action Earth campaign, run by national charity Volunteering Matters, has launched to support communities to get back to outdoor environmental volunteering.

Projects can apply now to the campaign, which is funded by NatureScot.

Nature is in crisis and we face a climate emergency. Last year, 157 successful projects completed, showing great resilience and adaptability in the face of very difficult circumstances. This year our focus is on helping restore and protect environments to deliver a ‘nature-rich’ future for all.

Landscape in Houstry area of Caithness. Picture: DGS
Landscape in Houstry area of Caithness. Picture: DGS

Volunteering Matters Action Earth (VMAE) offers easy-to-access grants of up to £250 for environmental activities across Scotland. We have 150 nature awards for any group of volunteers carrying out practical environmental improvements or wildlife habitat creation in their local green spaces. Previous projects have included wildflower meadow and pond creation, woodland and wetland renovations and creating and improving community gardens.

We are also keen to support projects working with people with disabilities, defined health issues or barriers to involvement. From last year’s 157 projects to benefit from Action Earth grant funding, over 4406 volunteers were involved in improving biodiversity in their community – 1329 of them having defined health and social issues.

The campaign is also keen to hear from projects whose work benefits disadvantaged communities especially in urban areas or in places with reduced local amenity. Fifty per cent of volunteers in 2021 were from areas in the lowest 20 per cent of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska said: “Nature can be a powerful tool in bringing communities together and rallying them into action, whether it’s to protect local greenspaces or create new opportunities for enriched biodiversity.

"In doing so, community groups have the chance, through the Action Earth campaign, to be involved in activities which help tackle the climate emergency, while enjoying the benefits of companionship, wellbeing and purpose. We are looking forward to welcoming lots of exciting project ideas this year.”

For those looking for inspiration for their projects, the VMAE website has instructions on how to build bird boxes, bat boxes, frog hibernacula, hedgehog boxes and bee/insect homes. NatureScot also has a host of tips to help nature this spring through its Make Space for Nature campaign.

More information is available and applications can be made now at the VMAE website: volunteeringmatters.org.uk/project/action-earth

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