Media release

ORC’s annual ECO Fund applications open on Friday – 1 March

Monday 26 February 2024

Community and environmental groups across Otago are being reminded the ORC’s annual ECO Fund applications open at the end of the week – from 1 March until 2 April.

This year the ECO Fund round for community projects received a 58.4% boost to available funds now topping $900,000, says ORC’s Manager Environmental Implementation Libby Caldwell. The addition of a one-off large-scale fund - targeting projects in a range of $50,000 - $150,000 - reflects that the annual ECO Fund and Incentives Funds have been consistently oversubscribed each year by more than 100% of the funds available, she says.

“We’ve definitely started seeing greater interest in community-led projects around Otago and want to foster more of these partnerships which so positively enhance the environment,” she says.

Last year's funding round included projects to establish a trap library at Taieri Mouth, removal of lupins in the Lindis Pass, plants for riparian planting in South Otago and rabbit fencing at Moeraki and Wanaka.

ORC Councillor and Chair of the ECO Fund, Alan Somerville says the larger fund this year will be able to support more projects.

“It's a very good plan to contact the Council to discuss your project before putting your application in,” Cr Somerville says.

Cr Somerville says the criteria is broad and covers biodiversity, biosecurity, and improving water quality, but the fund can also cover up to 50% of wages costs for project coordinators.

Mrs Caldwell says the criteria for the new large scale biodiversity grants includes that the project must address biodiversity outcomes, be in a range of $50,000 and $150,000 and be completed by June 2025.

Last year’s applications came from across Otago; with successful applications around Dunedin environs, around Queenstown and the rest as far afield as Oamaru, Lake Hawea, the Catlins, Wanaka and South Otago.

In 2022, the contestable funding available was $470,000 and in 2023 that rose to $568,000.

In May last year it was announced a total 32 organisations around Otago were the successful recipients of $536,470 - from both the ORC’s annual ECO Fund and its Incentives Fund.


The ECO Fund and other incentives in 2024 total $900,000


ECO Fund General grants - $300,000.

Incentives targeted at sustained rabbit management - $100,000.

Incentives targeted at water quality - $50,000.

Incentives targeted at biodiversity enhancement on protected private land- $100,000.

Incentives targeted at native planting following pest control - $50,000.

Large scale biodiversity grants - $300,000.


Anyone interested in the fund is encouraged to review ECO Fund information on the ORC’s website and to get in touch with the ECO Fund team at ORC to discuss potential applications by emailing or calling 0800 474 082.


The ECO Fund and other incentives for 2024 funding was adopted through the Annual Plan and the additional biodiversity grants were confirmed by ORC’s Environmental Implementation Committee on 8 November last year.