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11 May, 2022

Ambitious green finance initiative launched: £500,000 initially available to enhance Scotland’s coasts and seas

Ambitious green finance initiative launched: £500,000 initially available to enhance Scotland’s coasts and seas: Environment Minister Mairi McAllan launched the Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) at Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve, East Lothian

A ground-breaking initiative has been launched today by Scotland’s Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan, to transform the health of Scotland’s coasts and seas.

The Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) has received £500,000 from the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund to begin this vital work. Now, NatureScot and partners are asking marine business and industry to contribute to this ongoing green finance initiative to support projects that will help to ensure that our coasts and seas are healthy, productive and rich in nature.

The fund accepts voluntary donations from a range of marine users and will award grants to marine environmental enhancement projects. SMEEF has been established by NatureScot, Scottish Government and Crown Estate Scotland with the support of Scottish environmental groups including Scottish Wildlife Trust and RSPB Scotland and funding from the offshore wind energy sector.

Today, the fund is formally open for donations and expressions of interest for grants. All marine businesses are being encouraged to come forward and support the work of SMEEF with donations.  

Launching the fund on a visit to Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve in East Lothian, Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said: “Tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss is a truly national endeavour which will require the collective effort of governments, businesses and our whole society to deliver the change needed.

“That is why we are keen to support this new and innovative approach to funding projects that enhance Scotland’s marine environment, bringing together the collective resources of the public sector and business to deliver truly transformative change.

“The Scottish Government is committed to taking forward a step change in marine protection – ensuring that our seas are clean, healthy, safe, productive and diverse, and managed to meet the long term needs of nature and people. Our £65 million Nature Restoration Fund is making an important contribution to meeting our climate targets and restoring Scotland's marine and terrestrial environment, including through a contribution of £500,000 to SMEEF to help begin its vital work.”

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot’s Chief Executive, said: “Our future depends on tackling the nature crisis and that includes our coasts and seas.  This important new fund will support the recovery and enhancement of our rich marine environment, helping to ensure that Scotland’s spectacular coasts and seas are healthy, resilient and productive for future generations.

“Today, we are launching this exciting new green finance initiative with £500,000 to start building the momentum for this important work. But this needs to be a long-term and cooperative approach. So we encourage businesses which benefit and depend on Scotland’s healthy seas and coasts to come forward and contribute to the fund.”

Simon Hodge, Chief Executive of Crown Estate Scotland, said: “This is a great opportunity for a joined-up approach to protecting and improving our marine environment. I want to encourage those involved with marine activity to commit to investing in joint action for maximum benefit. Crown Estate Scotland is pleased to be supporting SMEEF, and to be part of this collaborative effort to look after our seas and coastline.”

SMEEF is managed by NatureScot, working closely with Marine Scotland and Crown Estate Scotland. The donations will be assessed by an Ethical Contributions Board and the awards will be evaluated by a Grants Panel. Both the Board and the Panel have independent chairs and include input from Scottish Environment LINK.  

For more information, to make a donation or a grant enquiry visit


Contact information

NatureScot Media
0131 316 2655

Notes to editors

SMEEF will contribute to a just transition to net zero through grant-aided projects that enhance the marine ecosystem services we all rely upon, including:

  • Recovery, restoration and enhancement of marine and coastal habitat and species
  • Marine and coastal nature-based solutions
  • Invasive species management
  • Research which sheds new light on relevant issues and/or makes projects more effective

Examples of the work SMEEF could support include restoring seagrass beds, creating new saltmarsh habitat, controlling non-native predators to protect breeding seabirds, and researching new approaches to restoration of the marine environment.

Applicants can apply for funding between £10,000-£100,000 for practical restoration projects in Scotland. Following the launch SMEEF is open for expressions of interest, the form can be downloaded from the website.

Nature-based solutions, such as those funded by SMEEF, including restoration and enhancement work, have the potential to quickly increase the range of employment opportunities in some of the most remote and fragile communities in Scotland. In fact, between 2015 and 2019, the green jobs sector grew at five times the rate of all other jobs and accounts for one-third of all jobs growth in Scotland.

An Ethical Contributions Board (ECB) comprising representatives from NatureScot, Crown Estate Scotland, the Scottish Government, and independent members, who specialise in relevant areas including audit, risk, legal, financial governance and partnership management will review all donations in line with the contributions acceptance policy which is available on the website

SMEEF would like to acknowledge the financial support of the following organisations:
Crown Estate Scotland, EDF Energy, Mainstream Renewable Power, Marine Scotland, Ocean Winds, Quaybridge, Red Rock Power, RIDG Power, RWE, Scottish Power Renewables, Simply Blue Group, SSE Renewables, Vattenfall

The Scottish Government’s £65 million Nature Restoration Fund, which has provided the £500,000 opening grant fund, is open to projects that help Scotland's species, woodlands, rivers and seas back on the road to recovery, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of local communities, with at least £12.5 million available in 2022-23. For more information on the fund, see the NatureScot website.

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

’S e NatureScot buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Bidh sinn a’ neartachadh àrainneachd na h-Alba agus a’ brosnachadh dhaoine gu barrachd suim a chur ann an nàdar. Tha e mar phrìomhachas againn gum bi nàdar na h-Alba beairteach agus gun dèilig sinn gu h-èifeachdach le èiginn na gnàth-shìde. Tha an tuilleadh fiosrachaidh aig no air Twitter aig


Environment Minister Mairi McAllan launched the Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) at Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve, East Lothian: Pictured left to right are: Crown Estate Scotland Chief Executive Simon Hodge, Environment Minister Mairi McAllan, NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska and Susan Davies, CEO of the Scottish Seabird Centre and Chair of the SMEEF Grants Panel.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan launched the Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) at Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve, East Lothian

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Seagrass ©Ben James/NatureScot

Seagrass ©Ben James/NatureScot

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Rock pooling - ©COAST

Rock pooling - ©COAST

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