Community fund to support vital work in biodiversity battle

A fund for community-led efforts to protect threatened species and at-risk cultural heritage has opened for applications today, the Acting Minister of Conservation Meka Whaitiri has announced.

The Department of Conservation’s Community Fund will make $9.2 million available for community conservation groups nationwide in the next year, supporting critical, grassroots work to halt the biodiversity crisis.

“This year the fund is aligned with achieving the outcomes of the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy/Te Mana o Te Taiao,” said Meka Whaitiri.

"New Zealand's biodiversity is a rich tapestry of animal and plant life, from wonderful snails and rare lichens to endangered birds and lizards, and the unique and special ecosystems they are a part of. Many of these species are on the brink of extinction and the places they live in are highly degraded."

“This fund recognises that community groups play a vital role in protecting our precious wildlife and places. We need these groups if we’re to turn around the biodiversity crisis.”

This year’s fund is divided into two streams:

  • $7.2 million for biodiversity projects that reduce the extinction risk of priority threatened species or protect priority ecosystems
  • $2 million to protect cultural heritage sites and maintain visitor infrastructure in the backcountry.

“This funding will also enable heritage sites to be preserved for future generations and to tell the public about important stories on our conservation estate,” said Meka Whaitiri.

There was no DOC Community Fund round in 2021 due to the focus on the Department’s Jobs for Nature programme and COVID recovery, so $9.2M is available this year as a double funding round.

The 2022 funding round is open now and closes on 31 January 2023.

Community groups, iwi and hapū, as well as private landowners throughout the country can apply for the funding. Government departments and local authorities are not eligible. Successful applications will be announced from late April 2023.

Notes to editors:

The DOC Community Fund (DOCCF) is a Crown fund established in 2014 that provides contestable funding for community-led conservation projects on public and private land.

The DOCCF has an annual appropriation of $4.6 million. Since 2014, the fund has awarded approximately $39 million to over 711 community conservation initiatives across New Zealand. DOCCF grants typically range in size from $5,000 - $100,000 for localised projects.

Details of how to apply are on the Department’s website.