There are 25 environmental projects being funded by the Otago Regional Council’s annual ECO Fund and incentive funds, with grants ranging from $1000 to $48,883 – totalling $443,125 this year.
There was a record 53 applications submitted from organisations requesting a total $1.1 million from the $470,000 available, which was increased by $180,000 through a one-off of incentive funding added through the Long-term Plan 2021-31, to the total $470,000.
Applications were open from 30 March until 1 May and ORC councillors today signed off the 25 successful projects, during a full Council meeting.
Partnering with local communities
Councillor and ECO Fund Assessment Panel chair Michael Deaker says the fund is one of many examples of the ORC working in partnership with local communities, to improve the state of our environment.
“This year was the biggest ever in terms of the number of community groups applying and the amount of money distributed. I’m more impressed, every year, with the quality and commitment of these groups, even in our most remote locations,” Mr Deaker says.
During the past four years, a total $1.19 million has now been distributed from the ECO Fund and other incentives for 101 projects, underpinning the environmental work of a total 78 organisations.
“It was especially satisfying this year, for the first time, to grant money to communities seeking sustained rabbit management, and more native planting for water quality and to replace wilding pines.”
He says every one of the 53 proposals was “painstakingly assessed” by four expert staff, four councillors and a Kāi Tahu kaumatua.
“It’s been a privilege to work on this project since 2018. It’s making Otago a better region, every year,” Mr Deaker says.
Diversity of applications
ORC’s Acting Manager Environmental Implementation, Libby Caldwell, was impressed with not only the diversity of applications, but the geographic spread of groups across Otago.
“The number of applications and level of oversubscription suggests there’s significant demand for community driven projects around Otago,” she says.
Mrs Caldwell says the ECO Fund enables groups, both large and small, to share in the funding and this supports community led projects, which are having great outcomes for Otago’s environment.
The successful 2022 applicants ranged from Dunedin and Oamaru to Mt Aspiring and Queenstown and in the south, to Tautuku and the Catlins area.
The additional incentive funds this year were ring-fenced to be used for sustained rabbit management ($100,000), native planting after wilding pine removal ($50,000) and native planting for water quality ($30,000).
Wanaka from Mt Iron.
General ECO Fund - $290,000
- Southern Lakes Sanctuary; $26,125, Mohua/yellowhead for translocation, helicopters and bait stations, Queenstown Lakes area
- Haehaeata Natural Heritage Charitable Trust; $38,124, for community native plant nursery and wages, in Clyde
- Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust; $17,091, for native revegetation of yellow-eyed penguin habitat, at Long Point in the Catlins Save The Otago Peninsula Inc; $17,926, for fencing significant native forest remnant, education on native plantings in workshops and planting days, around Harbour Cone, on Otago Peninsula
- Wakatipu Reforestation Trust; $45,733, environmental education in the Queenstown Lakes area
- Friends of Bullock Creek Inc; $12,000, for weed control/water quality in Wanaka
- Aroha Kaikorai Valley Trust; $19,266, for predator trap network; plans and traps in Kaikorai Valley, Dunedin
- Quarantine Island Kamau Taurua Community (Inc); $18,002, for native revegetation, weed and predator control, a co-ordinator and volunteer expenses, at Quarantine Island in Otago harbour
- Forest & Bird, Dunedin branch; $16,261, predator control to protect long-tailed bat roost sites, in the Tahakopa Valley, Catlins
- Mana Tahuna; $15,000, for predator trap lines around Lake Hayes
- Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust; $4,000 for native revegetation on the Upper Clutha
- Hokonui Runanga operating as Hokonui Runanga Floriculture Ltd; $38,413, for possum control in native forests around Tautuku
- Forest & Bird, Waitaki Branch; $3,000, for community native plant sourcing and nursery, in Oamaru
- Aspiring Biodiversity Trust; $19,098 for a predator trap network around Mt Aspiring National Park
Incentive fund – Sustained rabbit management - $100,000
- Hidden Hills Residents Assc; $48,883, rabbit fencing around Wanaka
- Friends of Tucker Beach Wildlife Management Reserve; $33,000, for a rabbit management plan around Queenstown
- Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group; $14,067, for community consultation for rabbit management plan
- Wentworth estate Residents Group; $4,050, for rabbit fencing, Gibbston
Incentive fund – native planting for water quality - $30,000
- Ōtokia Creek and Marsh Habitat Trust, $23,700, for native revegetation, admin, materials and labour at Brighton, south of Dunedin
- Dunedin Environment Centre Trust, $5,000, for native revegetation at Kaikorai Estuary, Dunedin
- East Otago Catchment Group, $1,300, native revegetation at Dunback, Shag Valley
Incentive fund - native planting following wilding pine removal - $23,125
- Arrowtown Choppers; $11,706, for native regeneration, planting consumables, Arrowtown
- Cape Wanbrow; $2,500, for native regeneration of titi/muttonbird habitat, Oamaru
- Quail Rise Residents Group; $1,000, site preparation for native regeneration, Queenstown
- Mokihi Reforestation Trust; $7,919, soil preparation materials for native regeneration, Bannockburn
Background of the ORC’s ECO Fund
The fund was previously six-monthly and has moved to annual, with applications open from 30 March for a month.
The seven previous rounds of the ECO Fund were also heavily oversubscribed.
Established in July 2018, there were seven, six-monthly, funding rounds. A total of 76 projects were chosen from 184 applications and $753,266 disbursed, with this first annual round (2022) providing $443,125 for 25 projects.
Further information on applying, other funding sources, and earlier ECO Fund projects