The Nature Fund has been established by the Victorian Government to support high impact projects that deliver on the goals of Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 (Biodiversity 2037), the Government’s plan to stop the decline of native plants and animals and improve the state’s natural environment.
The Nature Fund encourages collaboration and partnerships between government, business, philanthropy and the community to deliver high impact projects that contribute to improving Victoria’s biodiversity.
Further funding announced - 2023
The Victorian Government has announced a further $3.5 million for the Nature Fund, adding to the initial $10 million invested in 2022 to projects that are already making a significant difference to the outcomes for biodiversity and threatened species in Victoria.
Nature Fund 2023 - applications closed
The purpose of the Nature Fund is to drive non-government investment into projects that benefit biodiversity.
The expression of interest period for Nature Fund 2023 is now closed.
For more information, please read the
The purpose of the Nature Fund is to drive non-government investment into projects that benefit biodiversity by:
- improving habitat (preferred) or
- benefiting threatened and/or culturally significant species.
Nature Fund 2023
Nature Fund funded component of the project to be concluded by May 2026.
Competitive two stage (EOI acceptance and 6-month project implementation planning and funds-confirmation period).
1:1 - At least matched funding from non-government sources – see funding eligibility
Minimum funding request
Multiple grant applications may be submitted. Each application submitted must be separate (not reliant on another project) and must not be a scaled version of another funded project – or a scaled version of another application.
In 2023, the program design and selection criteria have changed following the first round of funding to further drive a culture of collaboration and co-investment to protect and restore Victoria’s rich biodiversity.
The following organisations can apply for funding:
- not for profit organisations
- government agencies
- private sector businesses and agencies
- educational institutions
- local government authorities
(Individuals cannot apply)
Incorporated Victorian Traditional Owner organisations or Aboriginal Victorian organisations. These are organisations that are:
- a not-for-profit organisation registered with the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission or
- an incorporated body or organisation registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria or an incorporated association under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act).
In addition, to be eligible for funding applicants must:
- be located in Victoria
- Be an incorporated or statutory entity with financial systems in place for receiving, managing and acquitting government funding
- have appropriate systems, processes and procedures in place to identify and manage risk that complies with all relevant laws and regulations including the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017
- have appropriate systems, processes and procedures to ensure good governance, and a high standard of quality assurance for project delivery
- have appropriate insurance coverage for its operational and business risks public liability insurance ($10 million minimum) and personal accident insurance cover to safeguard any volunteers and participants involved in the funded activities.
Applicants who do not meet the eligibility above can partner with another organisation that does meet the eligibility, known as an auspice. DEECA will provide appropriate budget for the auspice if required.
Eligible projects need to:
- Secure (or have the potential to secure by the end of Stage 2) matched co-funding from non-government sources, excluding volunteering and in-kind support (see ‘matched funding’ below).
- Deliver benefits for Victorian biodiversity by,
- Improving habitat (preferred) or
- Benefiting threatened and/or culturally significant species
- Engage Traditional Owners:
- For public land: Recognised Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) are engaged and supportive of project.
- For private land: Traditional Owners (TOs) are given an opportunity to be involved.
Applicants must secure at minimum matched co-funding. The co-funding can include a combination of financial donations (including donations from businesses and individuals) and philanthropic grants but cannot include funds obtained from government sources (e.g. Federal, State, or Local Government grants programs). Funding must be cash, not in-kind.
Applicants will need to describe how they will achieve matched funding. Co-funding does not need to be secured at the time of proposing investment from the Nature Fund – however, when submitting an EOI at Stage 1, projects must demonstrate the potential to secure co-funding by the conclusion of Stage 2 (a six-month period).
Note, the amount of co-funding will also be considered as part of the assessment criteria for selecting projects.
The Nature Fund will support the following categories of expenditure:
- contribution towards land purchase costs (e.g. as part of a project to purchase land to protect habitat and support the survival of a threatened species – see ‘Private Land’ on page 5)
- undertaking conservation works – on-ground or ex situ
- improvement of existing assets that support the environmental health of the site
- personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves, goggles and masks)
- site preparation
- translocations (with a permit)
- training and certification
- capital items (e.g. access steps)
- project coordination / project management (limited to ten per cent of any project proposal)
- contractors, including presenters and survey work
- capital equipment, such as monitoring equipment (excluding computers).
- materials and equipment hire
- for revegetation (for example, plants and tree guards)
- for pest and predator control (for example, exclusion fencing)
- to support threatened wildlife (for example, captive breeding or translocation of a species to a new habitat, or creation of artificial hollows)
Capital equipment - Please note that capital equipment will need to become a registered asset with your organisation or auspice.
You will need to demonstrate:
- that all expenditure, especially for contractors, training, project coordination and capital equipment, is essential to the success of the project
- that the amounts requested are commensurate with the overall project; and
- as part of the overall project, what specifically is being requested from the Nature Fund and what is being funded through co-investment from other source/s.
When developing budgets, you should ensure that activity costs (such as equipment, materials and contractor charges) are fully costed, including GST.
Funding is not available for:
- routine or ongoing maintenance activities including those required by legislation
- recurrent operating costs, for example rent and associated utility costs, insurance and/or activities establishing expectations of ongoing funding
- activities located outside the State of Victoria (unless in the case of translocation of species)
- political campaigning or advocacy activities for political parties
- activities that are already funded through another organisation, programs or fund source
(Note: Your project can build on the success of past or existing projects. The grant must fund additional activities that would not occur without this funding.)
- native vegetation and threatened species offsets or offset activities (such as to meet a condition of a permit)
- any illegal activity
- purchase of goods for competitions, prizes, giveaways, vouchers or alcohol
- any other action or activity determined through the assessment process to be an inappropriate or unsuitable use of the funds.
The Nature Fund can support projects on land of any tenure in Victoria. Projects must have landowner / land manager approval.
Projects on private land must demonstrate a clear public benefit. The project will need to demonstrate it will make a significant difference and represents good value for money, leveraging co-funding from another source. Preference will be given to private land projects that will ensure permanent protection.
DEECA supports the self-determination of Traditional Owners. For projects on public land, partnership with Traditional Owners should be undertaken as early as possible in the project development, in line with Pupangarli Marnmarnepu ‘Owning Our Future’ Aboriginal Self-Determination Reform Strategy 2020-2025 — for example, discussions at a relevant forum, a site visit on Country and/or demonstrated ‘in principle’ support from the Traditional Owner group specific to that area. https://www.deeca.vic.gov.au/aboriginalselfdetermination/self-determination-reform-strategy
Projects should factor in adequate budget for Traditional Owners to be adequately renumerated and resourced. Sufficient time should be allocated, and timelines must incorporate Traditional Owners’ governance structures and ways of making decisions.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the relevant Country Plan for the group you will be engaging (if they have one) prior to commencing any engagement and understand the Traditional Owner group’s legal status and rights under the relevant legislation.
Applicants who are not Traditional Owner Corporation registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act), will need to include a letter of support for the project and for the organisation from the Traditional Owner Corporation of the Country where the works are proposed.
If the proposed works are on Country where there is a formally recognised Traditional Owner Corporation (Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAP)), the letter should be from the RAP. Where the location has no RAP, letter/s of support should be from relevant Traditional Owner groups with interest in the area of the proposed works.
Find out more…
To find found out the Formally Recognised Traditional Owners are for an area, search the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Register and Information System (ACHRIS), available at https://www.aboriginalheritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/victorias-current-registered-aboriginal-parties. To find details of non-formally recognised Traditional Owner groups in Victoria, please visit the (Commonwealth) Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC).
Stage 1 – EOI Assessment
Applicants will submit an expression of interest (EOI) detailing how the project meets the eligibility and assessment criteria. The DEECA Nature Fund Governance Group will select the most promising projects demonstrating alignment (or potential for alignment) with the purpose of the Nature Fund. These projects will be recommended to the Minister for approval.
Note, at this stage projects will be assessed on their potential. EOIs will need to demonstrate the potential for the project to fulfil the criteria within the 6 month-long second stage. For example, a project may not have secured full co-funding but can demonstrate high likelihood funding avenues in development.
In addition to responses against the Nature Fund eligibility and assessment criteria, applicants should articulate whether a small payment of up to 5% or up to a maximum of $10,000 is required for the six-month planning and fund-securing process (ie. for payment for Traditional Owner group engagement or project governance planning and coordination).
The selected projects will progress to Stage two.
Stage 2 - six-month period for meeting eligibility criteria
Successful proponents will be given six months to secure the proposed co-investment and finalise project plans, as well as gain Traditional Owner support. DEECA will provide support and advice during this stage and may provide seed funding if required (as per above). At the end of Stage 2, when projects are confirmed to have met all eligibility criteria, projects will enter into funding agreements for the full funding requested.
First, applications will be checked for eligibility to make sure that the applicant and their activity are eligible for funding. After that, eligible applications will be assessed using the selection criteria below.
Biodiversity benefit 40%
Extent to which project delivers habitat improvement to benefit Victorian biodiversity
Strongly preferred - Habitat improvement actions are likely to include pest and weed control and revegetation and may include some species-specific habitat improvement actions (eg. provision of nesting boxes).
Lower preference - Extent to which project demonstrates benefit for threatened and/or culturally significant species.
Extent to which biodiversity impacts will be sustained into the future (ie. legacy beyond the funding period).
Demonstrate how biodiversity and threatened species will benefit, using relevant tools and evidence, including but not limited to Strategic Management Prospects and threatened species action statements.
Sustained benefits could be demonstrated through:
- Establishment of permanent protection
- Sustained funding from other sources
- Creation of long-term collaborative relationships with the community, Traditional Owner groups, funders and neighbouring landowners
- Ongoing volunteer/in-kind support
- Building capacity of community groups involved in the project
- Project activities that contribute to long-term restoration ie. Restoration of wetland hydrology
Degree to which project will leverage non-government investment – considering both ratio of funding and likelihood of securing co-funding.
Description of plans/intent for securing co-funding, including degree confirmed/secured. Letters of support required as evidence for confirmed funding
Delivery risk 20%
Extent to which applicant demonstrates:
Demonstrated through examples of previous work, evidence for methodologies etc
Please submit the following documents with your application:
- evidence of confirmation of other funding sources
- evidence of support from Traditional Owner Groups
- written consent from the relevant public land manager or private landowner to undertake the activity
- approval for appropriate works permit/s from councils or other authorities
- certificate of insurances
- project location shapefiles if available
- written support from an Auspice organisation is applicable
- further information to support your methodology
Successful applicants must enter into a funding agreement with Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA). The Victorian Common Funding Agreement is used for funding agreements with not for profit organisations and Local Government Authorities.
The DEECA Transfer Payment Funding Agreement is used for Victorian public entities, as defined under section 5 of the Public Administration Act 2004.
It is recommended that applicants review the terms and conditions before applying. Information about the Victorian Common Funding Agreement is available on https://www.vic.gov.au/victorian-common-funding-agreement
The activity does not include using the Funding for political campaigning or advocacy activities for political parties.
Legislative and regulatory requirements
In delivering the activity grant recipients are required to comply with all relevant Commonwealth and state/territory legislations and regulations, including but not limited to:
- The Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth)
- The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic)
- Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Applicants should consult the Australian Taxation Office or seek professional advice on any taxation implications that may arise from this grant funding.
Successful applicants without an ABN will need to provide a completed Australian Taxation Office form ‘Statement by a Supplier” so that no withholding tax is required from the grant payment.
Acknowledging the Victorian Government’s support
Successful applicants are expected to acknowledge the Victorian Government’s support and promotional guidelines (https://www2.delwp.vic.gov.au/grants) will form part of the funding agreement. Successful applicants must liaise with the departmental program area to coordinate any public events or announcements related to the project.
Payments will be made as long as:
- the funding agreement has been signed by both parties;
- grant recipients meet the eligibility and selection criteria by the end of Stage 1 of the application process
- grant recipients provide reports as required, or otherwise demonstrate that the activity is progressing as expected;
- other terms and conditions of funding continue to be met.
Grant recipients are required to comply with project monitoring and reporting requirements as outlined in the funding agreement. This may include progress reports, site inspections, completion reports and acquittal documentation.
Any personal information about you or a third party in your application will be collected by the department for the purposes of administering your grant application and informing Members of Parliament of successful applications. Personal information may also be disclosed to external experts, such as members of assessment panels, or other Government Departments for assessment, reporting, advice, comment or for discussions regarding alternative or collaborative grant funding opportunities. If you intend to include personal information about third parties in your application, please ensure that they are aware of the contents of this privacy statement.
Any personal information about you or a third party in your correspondence will be collected, held, managed, used, disclosed or transferred in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and other applicable laws.
Requests for access to information about you held by DEECA should be sent to the Manager Privacy, P.O. Box 500 East Melbourne 8002 or contact by emailing Foi.email@example.com.
Expressions are submitted online using the Grants Online portal. To apply, go to the grant program web page www.environment.vic.gov.au/nature-fund and click on the ‘Start New Application’ button. To return to a saved draft application, click on the ‘Access Saved Application’ button.
Attaching required documents:
Supporting documents must be in an acceptable file type, such as Word, Excel, PDF, or JPEG. The maximum file size for each file is 10MB.
You will receive an application number when you submit an application online. Please quote this number in all communications with the department relating to your application.
If you have documents to submit that cannot be attached to your online application you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org quoting your application number. Attach all documents to one email, zipping the files if required.
Make sure your application is submitted by 5.00 pm on 6 November 2023
Note: No hard copy applications will be accepted. Late and incomplete applications will not be considered.
14 September 2023
Information session 1
21 September 2023
Information session 2
12 October 2023 - Access the recording below
5pm 6 November 2023
2022 Funded Projects
The following projects were funded through the 2022 Nature Fund General Stream.
Spring Plains Watershed Repair
This demonstration project will apply a combination of innovative ecological restoration techniques to a 138-hectare catchment that is a hot spot for the endangered Swift Parrot, to ‘re-set’ the damaged forest so that it can recover ecological health and better withstand the impacts of climate change.
Project lead: Central Victorian Biolinks Alliance Inc.
Habitat connectivity for phascogales in central Victoria
This project supports the Brush-Tailed Phascogale by creating and promoting habitat stepping-stones in a degraded landscape. The project will fence and revegetate 25mx25m blocks around large old trees, protecting potential nest sites and providing stepping-stones for habitat connectivity. An education event and volunteer nest box monitoring will engage community members.
Project lead: Connecting Country (Mount Alexander Region) Inc.
Repairing the past – Returning Semi-arid Woodlands
This project will involve landscape-scale revegetation of Semi-arid woodlands in North-west Victoria, and plantings of significant flora, largely missing from the Mallee landscape. The project will manage grazing pressure, control weeds and improve habitat for the Mildura Ogyris Butterfly. The work will be promoted through visitor experience infrastructure. The project involves planning together with First Peoples and propagation services provided at the First Peoples’ nursery.
Project lead: Friends of Mallee Conservation, auspiced by Landcare Victoria Inc.
Reversing decline of the critically endangered Southern Bent-wing Bat
This project will reverse the decline in critically endangered species in the Portland area. The focus will be on improving 375-hectares of Southern Bent-Wing Bat foraging habitat and other direct species interventions. The project will protect and improve high biodiversity remnants and the habitat of other critically endangered species.
Project lead: Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority
Saving threatened plant species on the Victorian Volcanic Plain
This project seeks to improve the net condition of 350-hectares of Natural Temperate Grasslands of the Victorian Volcanic Plain (VVP) in Western Victoria. VVP Stewardship and roadside restoration sites occur on the VVP in Moyne, Southern Gramps, Ararat, Pyrenees and Corangamite shires. Establishment of a seed production area and re-introduction program will improve the trajectory of threatened and culturally significant species, including the Button Wrinklewort, Hoary Sunray and the Derrinallum Billy-Button and other native species, increasing population numbers and the overall quality of the sites.
Project lead: Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority
Bringing back the Maccas
This project will restore habitat for the endangered Macquarie Perch (“Maccas”), a large-bodied native fish within the Murray Darling Basin. Habitat restoration will support the long-term resilience of the species by creating conditions suitable for both spawning and the survival of newly recruited fish. The project will also support selective harvesting of adult broodfish for captive breeding efforts and surveying to better understand the population of Maccas.
Project lead: North East Catchment Management Authority
Small Fish, Big Impact: Securing Four Threatened Wetland Fish in Northern Victoria
This project will reintroduce Olive Perchlet into Northwest Victoria; establish double the number of known populations of flat-headed galaxias in Northeast Victoria; undertake habitat restoration, conservation stocking, and translocations of Southern Pygmy Perch and Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon; and undertake research to improve species reintroductions.
Project lead: North Central Catchment Management Authority
Widgewah Conservation Reserve Expansion
Widgewah Conservation Reserve is a 80-hectare section of a property in Avenel, Victoria, with a predator proof fence that is preparing to welcome its first group of Southern Brush-Tailed Rock-Wallaby. Widgewah is managed by Odonata and, with the land-owners, Odonata is working towards expanding the sanctuary to 430-hectares.
Project lead: Odonata Foundation
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo: Restoring semi-arid woodlands
This project will restore ecosystem function in semi-arid woodlands and address the shortage of nest hollows for Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos and other threatened fauna by creating artificial hollows, reducing hollow competition and fire threats, and supporting the establishment and development of the next generation of nest trees through revegetation and grazer control.
Project lead: Parks Victoria
Observation Point: Nature Haven for Fairy Terns
This project will support recovery of the Fairy Tern through improving and expanding suitable breeding habitat and significantly improving capacity to respond to feral cats and other threats at Observation Point.
Project lead: Phillip Island Nature Parks
Raising Rarity: Preventing the extinction of Victoria’s threatened flora
This project will use an integrated conservation framework to prevent extinction of 24 endangered Victorian plants. The framework includes (1) threat assessment and community surveys, (2) seed and essential symbiont collections, (3) genetic assessment to inform propagation, (4) developing permanent ex-situ living collections and (5) reintroductions using knowledge of suitable habitat and pollinator availability.
Project lead: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Crucial steps to save Australia’s most unique and threatened butterfly community
This project will deliver conservation actions for threatened invertebrate communities in the Goulburn Broken Catchment near Broadford. Continuing on from a four-year recovery program for the threatened Small and Large Ant-Blue Butterflies and 'Butterfly Community No. 1', the project will implement key actions including habitat restoration activities, continued research and monitoring, community engagement and continued captive breeding investigation efforts.
Project lead: Threatened Species Conservancy Inc.
Drought-proofing threatened species on the Lower Loddon floodplain at Wirra-lo
This project will involve securing ownership of a 180-hectare property called “Wirra-Lo” at Murrabit West in Northern Victoria. The project will involve ecological restoration, including weed and pest predator control, revegetation and restoration of hydrology to create and protect essential habitat for the Growling Grass Frog (Vulnerable), Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon (Critically Endangered), Australasian Bittern (Critically Endangered), Grey-Crowned Babbler (Vulnerable), Ridged Water Milfoil (Critically Endangered) and Stiff Groundsel (Critically Endangered). This project will involve collaboration with Traditional Owners with the long-term vision of the Wetland Revival Trust to employ indigenous rangers to manage the site.
Project Lead: Wetland Revival Trust
Securing Spotted Tree Frogs and co-occurring native freshwater fauna
This project will create a safe-haven for the Spotted Tree Frog and other co-occurring native freshwater fauna from non-native predatory fish. It will also help establish a Spotted Tree Frog captive conservation breeding program that can support future reintroduction and population augmentation recovery activities for the species.
Project lead: Wild Research, auspiced by Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority
A future for Victoria’s threatened wildlife
This project will target key threatened species in Victoria where tangible, high impact conservation interventions can be enacted rapidly to drive conservation progress: the Pookila, Watson’s Tree Frog and Giant Burrowing Frog. The program involves recovery actions utilising a combination of translocations, ex situ breeding, wildlife health, community engagement and research investigations to advance knowledge.
Project lead: Zoos Victoria
The following projects were funded through the Nature Fund’s Caring for Country funding stream.
Monmar (Point Nepean) White-Footed Dunnart Monitoring and Feral Predator Control
Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation will partner with Parks Victoria to carry out a White-Footed Dunnart monitoring program to assess their density/distribution, and predator control (cat trapping) for the White-Footed Dunnart and Long-nosed Bandicoot. White-Footed Dunnart are threatened by habitat loss, bushfires and feral predators. Monitoring through this project will inform current management actions and future actions to protect this species.
Project lead: Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
Enabling Right Ways on Djandak
This project will empower Djaara to deliver high impacts for Victoria’s biodiversity on Dja Dja Wurrung Country, consistent with Biodiversity 2037 and Pupangarli Marnmarnepu. Through leveraging a partnership with Bush Heritage Australia, the project will leverage additional resources to support Right Way Management of Reserves and broader Djaara self-determination.
Project lead: Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises
Traditional Land Management of Ryans Lagoon Wetlands
This project will deliver: (1) Traditional land management (engaging an Elder as Ranger to manage the 165-hectare Ryans Lagoon Wetlands, (2) Training Ground (ecological thinning, burning, cultural harvesting, pest control and cultural activities with First Nations people including young people to build skills, and (3) Cultural Workshops (four gatherings per year with knowledge holders from across Australia).
Project lead: Duduroa Dhargal Aboriginal Corporation, auspiced by Parklands Albury Wodonga Ltd.
Lower Snowy River Symplocos Protection and Reintroduction
This project will protect known locations of Symplocos thwaitesii (buff hazelwood) on the lower reaches of the Snowy River through protection measures such as deer fencing and weed removal, commence searching for seed and take cuttings from known populations, and commence propagation to relocate into fire effected areas.
Project lead: Moogji Aboriginal Council East Gippsland Inc.
Murrk Ngubitj Yarram Yaluk Regeneration
This project will support actions to protect biodiversity as part of a broader program to create 30 hectares of environmental and public open space at Murrk Ngubitj Yarram Yaluk (meaning ‘head waters of continuous flowing river’ in Wadawurrung language), Barwon Water’s former Bellarine Basin site. Funding will support: landcare activities, including planting, weed management and pest control, where Wadawurrung will provide guidance on the most culturally sensitive approach; establishment of a 'friends of' group to undertake work onsite; construction of walking paths and boardwalks to protect native vegetation (including FFG listed orchids and remnant grassy woodland) and carparking to access the site without damaging key biodiversity areas.
Project lead: Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation
Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Nature Fund Caring for Country
Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation (WWCHAC) will apply Traditional Cultural practices to care for Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country on their Nunganala property in Healesville. This project will provide an opportunity for WWCHAC's Narrap Ranger/s to practice and share traditional land management knowledge and restore this important part of Wurundjeri Country.
Project lead: Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation
Page last updated: 06/11/23