Project Eligibility Criteria

Date of posting: 24/11/2023

Vision – Generating corporate philanthropy for nature restoration projects in England.

During this pilot phase we are trialling around 20 projects on the platform. These have been selected from projects submitted to Defra Group which have received government funding in the past.

All pilot projects meet the minimum eligibility criteria outlined below, including meeting the core themes and having received government funding in the past. Additional selection criteria and principles have been applied to determine the final projects for the pilot phase, as outlined below.

Projects for Nature is not currently open to applications from nature projects. If you are running a project which aligns with the eligibility criteria outlined below, please register your interest here and tell us about your project. This will give us an indication of the level of interest in the platform. Projects for Nature will be in touch with further information if the project continues post-pilot.

Project Selection Criteria

Note: these criteria have been established for the pilot phase and may be adapted for any future phases.

Projects must be led by one of the following types of organisation:

• Charitable incorporated organisation, registered with the Charity Commission
• Not-for-profit organisation
• Community interest company
• AONB or National Park authority
• Local authority
• University or research institution

The lead organisation’s principle aims or objectives should be concerned with the protection and/or improvement of the natural environment.

Project partnerships must be led by an organisation that meets the requirements above, but the partnership may also include:

• For-profit organisations whose involvement is for public benefit rather than private gain
• Executive or advisory non-departmental public bodies

These organisations cannot be the lead applicant.

Project Eligibility*

All projects should be contributing towards government ambitions for nature recovery, as set out in the Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP). They should therefore be aiming to deliver against one or more of the following core themes:

1. Nature conservation and restoration – habitats and ecosystem restoration and/or species recovery 
2. Nature-based solutions for climate change – mitigation or adaptation/resilience
3. Connecting people with nature – including access, engagement, skills or employment

We will also consider projects that meet one of the themes above, plus:

4. Innovation – such as new approaches or technology to delivering nature recovery

Projects involving land acquisition will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with emphasis on the measures in place to ensure the long-term use of the land in question.

*Further information on the criteria is outlined in Annex A below. 

Pilot Eligibility

In selecting projects for the pilot phase, we have also applied the following criteria:

• Projects must be delivering in England only – as these are within the remit of the Environment Agency and Natural England
• Projects must be receiving, or have received, government funding to date, but must be seeking funding for deliverables not covered by the received grant: for example, extension or expansion of a funded project
• Projects must be planned and costed, such that it is clear what the funding sought will cover and what will be delivered as a result.
• Whilst the delivery of environmental outcomes is not expected to be achieved within the six-month pilot period, projects must agree to provide delivery indicators during the funding period and may be required to provide updates to relevant donors in future
• The funding sought should primarily be in the range of £50k–£1m, although exceptions will be considered. This range will enable us to test the scale of appetite for corporate donation and to enable different sizes of business to engage with the pilot
• Projects must be willing to report on delivery and contribute to an overall evaluation of the pilot phase

Final Selection

P4N have applied additional criteria to the final selection of projects for the pilot in order to meet the objectives of:

• Testing different parameters for the pilot
• Ensuring sufficient interest from businesses

For transparency, the following additional selection criteria have been considered during selection for the pilot:

1. The project contributes to identified EIP targets and/or aligns with local priorities for nature 
2. The project is ready to deliver, e.g. has all necessary permits, licensing and land agreements in place 
3. Deliverability and sustainability: e.g. the project has a track record of delivery, established governance arrangements and legacy planning  

As we are piloting this initiative to test the market and appetite from corporates to donate to nature recovery projects, we want to ensure that we can gather as much learning as possible to inform the development of future initiatives. In determining the final selection for the pilot, we have therefore tried to ensure:

• A range of themes and topic areas
• A range of funding targets and activities
• Geographical spread
• Suitability of projects for corporate philanthropy
• Alignment with initial feedback on interests gathered from market testing with businesses 

The number of projects on the platform will be managed. For the pilot, around 20 projects will be selected and some projects that meet the criteria may not be selected.

Reporting and Evaluation

Donors will expect projects they are supporting to report on the impact of their donation, so projects must be prepared to report on this. We will therefore require projects to collect qualitative and quantitative information to evidence their proposed outputs. 

We will also expect projects to engage in a wider evaluation of the pilot. For example, we will be seeking to gather feedback on pilot participant experiences and impacts achieved. 

Annex A: Further guidance on core themes

We encourage project developers to consider and set out how their project can contribute to one or more of the below core themes when registering their interest for potential future rounds of P4N. Where a project has already received funding from other sources to achieve the proposed activities, please specify how the funding you would like to seek through this initiative will build on that to enhance, extend or expand your project for greater impact.

Nature Conservation and Restoration

Projects which aim to contribute to Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan goals and/or its Environmental Improvement Plan targets for thriving plants and wildlife. 

In particular, projects contribute to the development of the Nature Recovery Network ambition and can demonstrate application of the Lawton Principles of:

• Bigger (e.g. expansion of existing sites)
• Better (e.g. improved condition of a site or SSSI)
• More (e.g. new sites or increased species and biodiversity)
• More joined up (e.g. creation of wildlife corridors or stepping stones connecting sites)

Examples include:

• Creation or restoration of priority habitats (as defined under Section 41 of the NERC Act)
• Improving the condition of SSSIs or other protected sites
• Creation or restoration of green and/or blue spaces
• Expanding existing sites through buffer zones or connecting sites through corridors and stepping stones
• Recovering nature at a landscape scale
• Recovering nature within a protected landscape
• Recovery of threatened native species or reintroduction of species where this aligns with the Environmental Improvement Plan
• Increasing the diversity and populations of native species such as insect pollinators 

Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Change

Projects which aim to contribute to Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan goals and/or its Environmental Improvement Plan targets for climate change, particularly nature-based solutions for adaptation or mitigation. 

Examples include:

• Tree planting, woodland restoration and management
• Creation, restoration or management of peatland
• Creation or restoration of permanent, wildlife-rich grassland
• Creation or restoration of wetlands
• Natural flood management
• River restoration, waterways bank protection and improvements
• Blue carbon habitat restoration projects
• Natural regeneration, land/soil stabilisation (e.g. hedgerow planting), wildfire prevention
• Urban green spaces for heat and flood management

Connecting People with Nature

Where suitable, projects should aim to contribute to Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan and/or its Environmental Improvement Plan targets for enhancing beauty, heritage and engagement with the natural environment. 

This theme enables projects to outline the social benefits that could be achieved from their project, for example from increased access for health and wellbeing, learning new skills and creating employment opportunities.

Examples include:

• Creating or enhancing green spaces or improving access to nature for deprived communities or under-represented groups
• Developing opportunities to bolster physical and mental health and wellbeing
• Creating or improving nature-rich, active travel trails, boardwalks, signage, interpretation, accessible pathways and facilities etc.
• Increasing volunteering or employment of project officers, wardens, rangers, educators etc.
• Engaging communities through events, activities and education e.g. forest schools, research, citizen science for environmental conservation and improvement