New Natural & Cultural Heritage Fund launches

visitor centre, courtesy of SNH
Norette Ferns

A new fund led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) will support projects that encourage visitors to experience more of the unique nature and culture of the Highlands & Islands.

The Natural & Cultural Heritage Fund will invest in around ten major new projects that showcase the local scenery, wildlife and culture of the area. It also aims to benefit communities, with the projects it supports helping to retain local jobs and services.

Welcoming the announcement, Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment & Innovation, said:

"Today’s announcement of the £5 million Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund is fantastic news for the Highlands and Islands. This money will go towards improving visitors’ facilities and access to its most remote and rural areas.

"The £5 million comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and will support inclusive and sustainable growth, a key part of the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework. Scotland’s breathtaking scenery and culture is recognised around the world, and improving the experiences for tourists in the Highlands and Islands will benefit the national and local economies by sustaining jobs and creating new opportunities."

Mike Cantlay, SNH Chair, said:

"The close links between nature and culture in the Highlands & Islands are a huge draw for tourists across the globe, and the economic benefits are a vital way of maintaining our rural populations, jobs and skills.

"Parts of the Highlands & Islands are well served, but we know there are even more out there with potential to bring benefits to rural communities in the coming years. We are hugely excited to find out more about projects that can make a crucial difference to visitor experience, as well as local quality of life."

The funding comes through the Scottish Government’s European Regional Development Fund programme, with match funding from other sources bringing overall investment to more than £7m.  

Applicants can come from the public, voluntary or third sectors. However, the fund is not suitable for applications from the private sector, individuals, commercial enterprise, or organisations run entirely by volunteers.

The funding round opens today (Monday 14 January) and closes 22 April 2019

Visit the SNH website for more information on the fund.