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Changes to the Heritage Lottery Fund, newly named the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to include a major focus on nature, have been welcomed by RSPB Scotland.
With one in 11 species threatened with extinction in Scotland and future funding support for biodiversity and nature conservation fast diminishing or changing, the needs of nature have never been greater.
The National Lottery has, since its inception, been an enormously important funder for biodiversity, and the announcement indicates that the National Lottery Heritage Fund will continue to play a vital role in backing the sector – providing much-needed leadership in the current climate.
Anne McCall, director of RSPB Scotland, said: ‘To learn that nature conservation is a top priority for so many lottery players is enormously reassuring, and signals the huge value people and communities put on our natural heritage and vital conservation work to maintain it – ensuring it continues to play a central role in our health and wellbeing.
‘We are also delighted that decisions concerning how 80 per cent of National Lottery funding will be distributed will in future be taken locally. The NLHF Scottish board, staff and advisers will more fully understand the particular challenges that Scottish heritage faces and they should be in tune with country plans and priorities.’
The overhaul also includes plans to ‘go beyond grants’, to include loans and partnerships, and RSPB Scotland believes this will make lottery money work harder for heritage, and create opportunities for some lottery money to be ‘recycled’ and reinvested into good causes.
Changes will also simplify the application process, allowing decisions to be made faster and the levels of funding available in some of the lower grant programmes to be increased, underlining the importance of lottery money availability to support all good heritage projects.