2023…A busy year!

The festive break provided an ideal opportunity to pause and reflect back on 2023, which turned out to be a very busy year for HIEF.  As well as directly awarding £189,424 in grants to support another 12 amazing, community-led projects, HIEF was able to negotiate an additional £171,530 of support from other environmental funders meaning £360,954 was invested in beneficial environmental projects throughout the highlands and islands.

Projects tackled issues in the marine; freshwater; forest and woodland; and montane habitats ranging from studies of harbour porpoise in Orkney; citizen science projects on our rivers; the first Scottish farmer cluster to include arable land; and studies into the elusive algae which produce ‘red snow‘.

Smartrivers: citizen science on our rivers
Specialised algae found in permanent snow patches: red snow

A variety of events throughout the year enabled Sally McNaught, HIEF Executive Director, to talk about the impact of the projects and community champions HIEF supports to encourage new community-led groups to get in touch and to persuade new donors to support HIEF.

Events included a seafood strategy workshop hosted by the Fishmonger Company, London; the HIEF visit to Aldourie Castle, Inverness; the ASR Rainforest dinner at Ardtornish, Morvern; the CCN conference at Gartmore, Stirlingshire; the Open Seas AGM, Glasgow; the EFN Scotland lunch, Edinburgh; Tales from the Field, hosted by Love Brand, London; and the Conservation Collective Global Gathering, Corfu.

Tales from the Field, London

HIEF also won two awards at the 2023 Collectives awards:

Highly Commended in the ‘Reducing Pollution’ category for our Net cutting collection & recycling pilot programme grant, helping fishermen & women in the Outer Hebrides trial the most effective way to prevent net cuttings, created when repairing nets or creels, from escaping into the environment & thus causing plastic pollution.

Winners of the ‘Best impact grant’ category for our grant leading to the de facto ban on the use of Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs) by salmon farms, thus helping to protect the hearing of whales, dolphins & porpoises which in turn helps them feed, navigate & communicate successfully.

Best impact grant winners - HIEF

And HIEF was featured as a case study in the new, ‘Supporting Effective Environmental Action in Scotland’ report published by EFN.

All in all, a tremendous endorsement of our first three years work and tremendous motivation to continue supporting even more impactful community-led environmental projects throughout 2024 and beyond!