ECO Fund checklist - are you eligible?

Funding is available for groups in the Otago region who is working on projects that will protect, enhance or promote the environment, including:

  • Community groups
  • Iwi/hapu
  • Incorporated societies
  • Community trusts
  • Resident and ratepayer groups
  • Landowner groups
  • Educational institutes

Projects must engage or involve the community.

The ECO Fund is available for projects that protect and/or enhance the environment including:

  • Biodiversity (e.g. regeneration or planting of native vegetation)
  • Biosecurity (e.g. pest plant or animal management)
  • Water quality (e.g. riparian planting or wetland restoration)

The types of activities the ECO Fund can be used for includes:

  • on-ground works
  • education and capacity building
  • awareness raising
  • administrative support (up to 50% of the cost)

Funding is available for projects up to 3 years, capped at $50,000 total for any project.

The ECO Fund does not provide funding for:

    • individuals
    • government agencies or territorial authorities
    • commercial or private gain
    • projects created to comply with Resource Consent conditions
    • responses to any actual or potential enforcement action
    • the purpose of seed capital
    • maintenance for existing projects
    • retrospective costs

Applicants can only submit one application per funding round.

This fund supports coordinated community-led rabbit management throughout Otago. It aims to provide community groups, or groups of neighbours working collaboratively, with an opportunity to lead the improvement of rabbit management in their area.

Funding is available for:

  • Groups of landowners (five or more adjacent landholdings)
  • Non-profit community organisations e.g., community association, charitable trust, incorporated society
  • Individual properties with the following status:
    • Māori customary land
    • Māori freehold land
    • Crown land reserved for Māori
    • General land within the boundary of an original native reserve, if that land is still owned or partly owned by Māori

Funding is not available for:

  • Individuals or work on individual properties (unless operating collaboratively with neighbours or as a community)
  • Territorial authorities or government agencies


Examples of community led approaches eligible for funding

Working together

  • Forming a community group to coordinate rabbit management in your area
  • Forming a community group to collect landowner contributions for collective rabbit management
  • Developing collaborative long-term rabbit management plans / community action plan
  • Forming new partnerships with other groups including community, government agencies, school groups, absentee landholders, landcare groups and mana whenua groups

Building and sharing skills and knowledge

  • Building community capacity for best practice rabbit management techniques, e.g., hosting community workshops, training in best practice, hosting expert guests.
  • Raising awareness of your programme via media, e.g. You Tube clips, webinars
  • Show casing community groups participating in best practice rabbit management
  • Producing advertising material to promote your community plan
  • Designing rabbit management signage for your local area

Control costs

  • Newly created groups (within first year) implementing long-term control methods such as fencing across multiple properties (number of properties required will depend on local context)


  • Trialling new techniques to inform best practice rabbit management
  • Trialling creative new community engagement / collaboration ideas


  • Developing a citizen science programme to monitor rabbit numbers in your area
  • Developing tools to monitor and map rabbit densities in your area
  • Collecting data to assist with local area rabbit management planning


  • Except for multi-year projects, projects must be completed within 12 months of receiving funding.
  • All applications for each round are assessed and ranked against the ECO Fund assessment criteria (see the 'How will my project be assessed? (Assessment criteria)' section below.)
  • All funding is GST exclusive. All financial information provided in an application must be exclusive of GST.
  • The ECO fund supports both one-off projects and those running over multiple years for up to 3 years. For multiple year funding, funds will be released annually conditional upon appropriate project reports which demonstrate meaningful progress being submitted.
  • Successful applicants must agree to Otago Regional Council promoting their project.
  • If work funded is not completed within the specified time frame or funds are not spent as agreed, Otago Regional Council reserves the right to demand the return of funds.
  • The ECO Fund does not provide funding for:
    • commercial or private gain
    • government organisations
    • projects created to comply with Resource Consent conditions
    • responses to any actual or potential enforcement action (excluding projects under the sustained rabbit control programme)
    • the purpose of seed capital
    • individuals
    • maintenance for existing projects
    • retrospective costs


  • Applicants can only submit one application per funding round.
  • Projects must have a defined start and finish date.
  • Applicants must disclose any other funding they have applied for or received for their project.
  • If funding is requested for salary costs, only 50% will be funded. Applicants need to demonstrate that requested salary funding is not more than 50% of total cost, and detail where the additional funding will come from.


  • All applications are assessed and ranked against the ECO Fund assessment criteria.
  • If the ECO Fund is over-subscribed in any funding round priority will be given to projects involving threatened or at risk species, or naturally uncommon ecosystems.
  • If an applicant is unsuccessful in one round of the ECO Fund, they may apply again in a subsequent funding round.
  • Decisions made by Otago Regional Council are final and are made at our sole discretion.
  • Where applicants seek funding exceeding $50,000, Otago Regional Council will only fund a proportion of the total project (to be determined on a case-by-case basis).

Decision and Grant

  • Successful applicants must accept the grant by signing a funding agreement.
  • Recipients must pay all costs associated with the project. ECO Fund grants will be transferred to recipients’ nominated bank accounts.
  • Nominated bank accounts cannot be private accounts; it must be an account in the Applicant’s name.
  • Successful applicants must agree to submit progress reports, where applicable, and a final report on the project outcomes to ORC within a specified timeframe, and account for how funds were spent.
  • Successful applicants agree to report on their project at a council meeting, if requested.
  • Funds granted expire 6 months after Council approval. If the applicant fails to comply with the Otago Regional Council’s terms and conditions within 6 months (unless otherwise agreed), the funding lapses.
  • Grants are approved subject to the Otago Regional Council being satisfied that the information given by recipients is true and correct. Otago Regional Council reserves the right to refuse grant funding, and/or request return of grant funding where it determines that it has been misled, that the applicant or recipient has omitted relevant information, or if the recipient enters into receivership, liquidation or ceases to exist (e.g. removed from register).


Additional information

You can find examples of projects previously funded by the ECO Fund here. If you think your application meets our criteria or if you have any questions, please get in touch with our team by emailing to discuss your idea further and for advice on your application.

In addition to the general ECO Fund pool of $290,000 there is funding available for specific incentive programmes for the 2022 funding round. These include:

  • Sustained rabbit management
    $100,000 to support groups of landowners to better manage rabbit populations over the long term. Further information on this funding can be found under the “Rabbit management additional criteria” tab above.
  • Planting for water quality
    $30,000 for planting native vegetation to improve areas of declining water quality. For example, riparian revegetation projects to address nutrient runoff or sedimentation of waterways. Information about areas of declining water quality can be found in the ORC’s State and Trends of River and Lake Water Quality Report.
  • Planting after wilding pines
    $50,000 for native planting after wilding pine removal to restore and enhance indigenous biodiversity.

Your application will be assessed by an assessment panel using the assessment criteria below.



Achieves ECO Fund objectives

The objectives of the ECO Fund are to:

- Protect, enhance or promote Otago’s environment

-  Enable community-driven environmental activities

How much is the project likely to contribute to achieving these objectives?

Projects can address these objectives through on-ground works or education and capacity building activities.

Aligns with ORC activities and priorities

The Annual Plan 2020-21 lists the following significant activity areas (relevant to the ECO Fund):

-  Freshwater quality

-  Biosecurity

-  Biodiversity

Other relevant documents which may be useful to align with include Otago’s:

- Biodiversity Strategy

- Biosecurity Strategy

Project objectives are realistic, and actions are likely to achieve the objectives

Setting a clear project objective helps track the success of the project. Objectives should be realistic and able to be achieved within the timeframe of the project.

The project should also outline what actions will be undertaken to achieve the objective. There should be a clear linkage between the action and the intended outcome.

If the project is implementing or contributing to an existing catchment management plan this should be noted.

Project is technically sound

The likelihood of a successful project is increased when the applicants are well informed or have expertise in the area.

Projects should demonstrate that the planned approach is technically feasible and reflects best management practice.

This could be through the expertise of the project applicants or through information they have sought and intend on implementing

Impact of the project

The impact a project can have can be assessed by:

-  Scale, how far reaching will the project outcomes be

-  Longevity, how enduring will the project outcomes be

-  Intervention level, is the project addressing the cause or symptom of a problem

Level of community engagement

A key objective for the ECO Fund is community involvement. This criterion assesses how much community involvement is being proposed and how far reaching that involvement may be.

Value for money

Consideration of any investment contributed by the applicant.

Applicant investment can include in-kind contributions such as labour or volunteer hours ($20 per hour minimum), monetary input from the group itself or project partners.

However, contributions from other grants are not considered applicant’s investment and should not be used to leverage funding.

New applicants

New applicants are encouraged.

Previous applicants are still eligible and we are keen to support good projects, but any outstanding commitments such as reporting or project tasks should be completed before applying.



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