Marine-based businesses are being asked to contribute greater financial support to help protect the health of Scotland’s seas and coastline.
The new Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) is asking marine businesses and industry to help finance projects that will enhance the environment and safeguard ecosystems.
The new fund, which has received an initial grant of £500,000 from the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, was launched by Scotland’s Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan, on a visit to Aberlady Bay in East Lothian, a noted habitat for a rich variety of birdlife.
The SMEEF, which will be managed by NatureScot with support from Crown Estate Scotland and the Scottish Government, will award grants to a wide range of projects.
Examples of the work SMEEF could support include restoring seagrass beds, creating new saltmarsh habitat, controlling non-native predators to protect breeding seabirds, and researching new approaches to the restoration of marine environments.
Simon Hodge, Chief Executive of Crown Estate Scotland, said: “This is a great opportunity for a joined-up approach to protecting and improving our marine environment. I want to encourage those involved with marine activity to commit to investing in joint action for maximum benefit. Crown Estate Scotland is pleased to be supporting SMEEF, and to be part of this collaborative effort to look after our seas and coastline.”
Applicants can apply for grants of between £10,000 - £100,000 for practical restoration projects in Scotland.
Mairi McAllan, Scotland’s Environment Minister, said: “Tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss is a truly national endeavour which will require the collective effort of governments, businesses and our whole society to deliver the change needed.
“That is why we are keen to support this new and innovative approach to funding projects that enhance Scotland’s marine environment, bringing together the collective resources of the public sector and business to deliver truly transformative change.
“The Scottish Government is committed to taking forward a step-change in marine protection – ensuring that our seas are clean, healthy, safe, productive and diverse, and managed to meet the long term needs of nature and people. Our £65 million Nature Restoration Fund is making an important contribution to meeting our climate targets and restoring Scotland's marine and terrestrial environment, including through a contribution of £500,000 to SMEEF to help begin its vital work.”
Francesca Osowska, NatureScot’s Chief Executive, said: “Our future depends on tackling the nature crisis and that includes our coasts and seas. This important new fund will support the recovery and enhancement of our rich marine environment, helping to ensure that Scotland’s spectacular coasts and seas are healthy, resilient and productive for future generations.
“But this needs to be a long-term and cooperative approach, so we encourage businesses which benefit and depend on Scotland’s healthy seas and coasts to come forward and contribute to the fund.”
SMEEF is managed by NatureScot, working closely with Marine Scotland and Crown Estate Scotland. The donations will be assessed by an Ethical Contributions Board and the awards will be evaluated by a Grants Panel. Both the Board and the Panel have independent chairs and include input from Scottish Environment LINK.
For more information, to make a donation, or if you have a grant enquiry, please visit the SMEEF website here.