HIEF update, February 2024

With Spring just around the corner, 2024 is flying in but it is great to see fresh, new growth starting to show and enjoy the gradually lengthening days.

HIEF awarded £57,424 to four inspiring community-led environmental projects at the very end of last year, taking the total number of projects supported throughout 2023 to 12 with £189,424 in grants.  More details are below.

In total, since awarding the first grants at the end of 2020, HIEF has now supported 40 projects with direct grants of £490,908.  By collaborating with other funders, we have supported a further 16 projects with additional funding of £411,230.  All of this has only been possible thanks to the support of many individuals and organisations who have donated to HIEF.  On behalf of each project HIEF has supported, thank you.

However, as we all witnessed, 2023 was a year characterised by many things including increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events seen all round the world – a stark reminder of the urgent need to prioritise environmental protection and restoration. I look forward to working with more communities throughout 2024 to bring new projects to life and to sharing details of these with you in future newsletters.

Kyle of Sutherland Community Tree Nursery: Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust 

HIEF grant? £12,500
HIEF grant impact? The Kyle of Sutherland Community Tree Nursery project will produce locally grown saplings for riparian (riverbank) planting.  This will reduce the risk of importing diseases & pests whilst also reducing the carbon emissions associated with the transportation of saplings grown elsewhere.  Locally sourced & grown saplings will be better suited to the local conditions & will help connect local communities with nature restoration throughout the catchment overall.

Why is this important? The Kyle Riverwoods project seeks to restore ecosystem function to the Kyle rivers catchment for the benefit of nature, climate & local highland communities.  The project aims to support river health, boost terrestrial & freshwater biodiversity, improve the Kyle rivers’ resilience to climate change, & help prevent the regional extinction of the wild Atlantic salmon.

This grant is towards 50% of the costs of employing a tree nursery manager for the first year (including set up).

Read more

Scotland’s red snows – exploring and showcasing snow algae in Scotland – Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS)

HIEF grant? £14,924
HIEF grant impact? This project represents an opportunity to document, preserve, & biobank a proportion of the range of rare, specialised, cold-adapted algae & invertebrates found in ‘permanent’ snow patches on Scottish mountains for the future.

Why is this important? Scotland’s permanent summer snow patches are disappearing; thus, we are losing a unique habitat which supports a bespoke range of specialised, cold-adapted algae & invertebrates.  Despite the visually striking nature of red snow algae blooms, their existence & extent in Scotland’s mountain landscape is almost unknown.

The plight of summer snow habitats in Scotland, combined with the enigmatic nature of red snows, also provide a tangible & engaging way to interest wider audiences with the impact of both the climate change & biodiversity crises, helping to raise awareness & potentially influence behaviour changes.

This grant is for the costs of the fieldwork & sampling.

Read more

Plock pilot – Kyle & Lochalsh Community Trust

HIEF grant? £15,000
HIEF grant impact? This project aims to establish an outdoor ‘School of the Environment’ on 60acres of community owned land – The Plock – beside the village of Kyle of Lochalsh within the UNESCO-designated Wester Ross Biosphere.

The Trust will work with community members, schools, further education colleges & land managers (garden owners, crofters & estate owners), to raise awareness & teach skills in land management to support & improve habitats & biodiversity.  Knowledge of habitat & biodiversity measuring & mapping (which would also be transferable to other areas in Lochalsh) will be shared & used to create a comprehensive body of baseline data about what can be found on the Plock.  The baseline data will then be used to secure further, long-term funding (planned bid to NHLF for 3 year funding).

Why is this important? This grant is to run a pilot, six month project offering a mixture of self-led education (nature trails & interpretation) & directed learning (expert-led workshops, citizen science days, volunteering opportunities & schools programmes).  The results of the pilot programme will be shared with other groups & organisations to help expand the opportunities for communities to become more actively involved in looking after local habitats for the benefit of both people & wildlife.

Read more.

Beachwatch Highlands & Islands – Marine Conservation Society

HIEF grant? £15,000
HIEF grant impact? Sadly, beaches littered with large quantities of plastic waste are a familiar sight all round Scotland.  HIEF funded phase 1 of this project, which sought to verify anecdotal evidence that the composition of plastic litter on island beaches varies from that found on mainland beaches.

Phase 1 results did indeed find that there was a difference but the sample sizes were very small, too small to scale up reliably.

Phase 2 will therefore expand the number of surveys completed as well as analyse the data & dispose of the items collected.  Groups from Orkney, Bute, the Hebrides & some mainland beaches (for comparison) have agreed to take part.

Why is this important? Cleaning up plastic waste from our beaches is only part of the solution.  In order to reduce pollution in the longer term, there needs to be an understanding of exactly what the waste consists of & where it comes from – so that the sources of the waste can be tackled at source.  In order to campaign for the necessary policy changes (ban or charges for single-use plastic items &/or polluter pays legislation), more data needs to be collected, analysed & validated.

This grant is for a contribution to phase 2 costs, specifically the staffing costs to facilitate all of the above.

This project will also receive an additional £15,000 from the partnership with Depeche Mode & Hublot from their Memento Mori Tour.

Read more.

Inspired to help support projects like these and help to support nature?
If so, please visit our page here

Thank you again to everyone for supporting HIEF and for staying tuned into our newsletters.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch: sally@hief.scot

Best wishes,
Sally McNaught
Executive Director