ECO Fund checklist - are you eligible?

Funding is available for anyone in the Otago region who is working on projects that will protect, enhance or promote the environment, including:

  • Community groups
  • Iwi/hapu
  • Incorporated societies
  • Community trusts
  • Resident and ratepayer groups
  • Landowner groups
  • Educational institutes

Please note that government organisations and their staff cannot apply to the ECO Fund.  

The ECO Fund supports not only shovel time, but also administrative support

  • The project occurs in Otago
  • The project involves or engages the community
  • Does one or more of the following:
    • Protect the environment
    • Enhance the environment
    • Promote the environment (e.g. does it create awareness in the community or educate school children?)
  • The project aligns with ORC work programmes in biosecurity, biodiversity, water quality, climate change, urban development and air.  

Your project will be assessed by an ORC committee using this assessment criteria.


  • Define funding round, e.g. 12-month period from 1 April 2021 to 30 March 2022.
  • Applicants that received funding in previous rounds of the ECO Fund are not guaranteed future funding. All applications for each round are assessed and ranked against the ECO Fund assessment criteria.
  • All funding is GST exclusive. All financial information provided in an application must be exclusive of GST.
  • The ECO Fund supports both one-off projects and those running over multiple years. Funding for projects running over multiple years may only be awarded for a 12-month period.  Funding for future years of ongoing projects will require additional applications to the ECO Fund.
  • Successful applicants must agree to Otago Regional Council promoting their project.
  • If work funded is not completed within the specified time frame or funds are not spent as agreed, Otago Regional Council reserves the right to demand the return of funds.
  • The ECO Fund does not provide funding for:
    • commercial or private gain
    • projects created to comply with Resource Consent conditions
    • responses to any actual or potential enforcement action
    • the purpose of seed capital
    • individuals
    • maintenance for existing projects
    • retrospective costs


  • Applicants can only submit one application per funding round.
  • Government organisations and their staff cannot apply to the ECO Fund.
  • Projects must have a defined start and finish date.
  • Applicants must disclose any other funding they have applied for or received for their project.
  • If funding is requested for salary costs, only 50% will be funded. Applicants need to demonstrate that requested salary funding is not more than 50% of total cost, and detail where the additional funding will come from.


  • All applications are assessed and ranked against the ECO Fund assessment criteria.
  • If the ECO Fund is over-subscribed in any funding round, not all projects will be funded.
  • If the ECO Fund is over-subscribed in any funding round priority will be given to projects in threatened and vulnerable habitats and ecosystems.
  • If an applicant is unsuccessful in one round of the ECO Fund, they may apply again in a subsequent funding round.
  • Decisions made by Otago Regional Council are final and are made at our sole discretion
  • Where applicants seek funding exceeding $50,000, Otago Regional Council will only fund a proportion of the total project (to be determined on a case-by-case basis)

Decision and Grant

  • Successful applicants must accept the grant by signing an acceptance letter and a subsequent funding agreement.
  • Recipients must pay all costs associated with the project. ECO Fund grants will be transferred to recipients’ nominated bank accounts.
  • Nominated bank accounts cannot be private accounts; it must be an account in the Applicant’s name
  • Successful applicants must agree to report on the project outcomes to ORC within a specified timeframe, and account for how funds were spent.
  • Successful applicants agree to report on their project at a council meeting, if requested.
  • Funds granted expire 6 months after Council approval. If the applicant fails to comply with the Otago Regional Council’s terms and conditions within 6 months (unless otherwise agreed), the funding lapses
  • Grants are approved subject to the Otago Regional Council being satisfied that the information given by recipients is true and correct. Otago Regional Council reserves the right to refuse grant funding, and/or request return of grant funding where it determines that it has been mislead, that the applicant or recipient has omitted relevant information, or if the recipient enters into receivership, liquidation or ceases to exist (e.g. removed from a register).

The ECO Fund has $250,000 to contribute to environmental projects in the Otago community each year. This is split into two funding rounds (see 'When can I apply?').

Where applicants seek funding over $50,000 only a proportion of the total project will be funded (to be determined on a case-by-case basis).

If funding is requested for salary costs, only 50% will be funded.

Before you fill out our online application form there are some things you need to consider:

A defined timeframe for delivery:

  • Projects must have a clear timeframe for when the project will start and finish
  • If you are applying for funding for an ongoing project, include as much information as you can in your application, such as project stages and costs/funding requested for each stage

Specific funding amount:

  • Applicants must provide an outline of the allocation of funding requested and quotes where relevant

A description of your project including:

  • Where it will take place
  • Who will be involved
  • How it will benefit the environment and align with ORC's work programmes

If the application is for administrative support, has supporting information been given, e.g. number of hours, pay rate per hour etc.

If the project takes place on public, DOC or Maori land, you must include written permission from the landowner with your application.

We also have a cost breakdown template for displaying how your costs will be allocated.

There are two funding rounds per year, with application deadlines and decision time frames for each one.

We fund both one-off projects and those running over multiple years (with a need to report, then reapply).

Funding rounds are:

  • Round 1: 1-20 March
  • Round 2: 1-20 October

Decision timeframes:

Applicants will hear the outcome within two months of the close-off date for each round. 

We encourage community collaboration and partnerships. It's great to work with others who share the same environmental goals.

Your project will be assessed by an ORC committee using this assessment criteria.

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