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What is the Eco Fund and how does it work?

08 June 2018

Since 2008, the Society has donated over £280,000 to help environmental causes in the Channel Islands, through our Eco-fund. Now in its 10th year, the Eco Fund is open for applications for 2018 projects.

Our Community Officer, Tanya Dorrity, explains how the Eco Fund works and reflects on some of the projects that have stood out to her over the years…

Firstly, what is the Eco Fund?

Each year our Eco Fund provides grants to worthy local projects that aim to protect and regenerate the local environment. Anyone with an environmental project or activity in the Channel Islands can apply for an Eco Fund donation.

The Eco Fund was launched in 2008 when we led the way in recycling by levying a 5p charge on one-trip carrier bags, in an attempt to reduce the number used. Now in 2018, we hear each day more news about how our environmental waters are plagued by the devastating effects of the world’s reliance on the product plastic. As a community retailer, we have pledged to commit to 80% recycling by 2020.

Why is the Eco Fund important to you?

I think the Eco-fund is a great opportunity for our communities to further enhance their own environmental projects whilst protecting our local environment. It is an opportunity to enable projects to reach fruition, which without our funding might not have the opportunity to attain their goal.

How many applications do you get in a typical year?

In a typical year we get around 35 applications. We tend to donate equally to each island, totalling around £18k with eight projects per island.

How do you choose the recipients? What do you look for?

Choosing which projects to award funding is a very difficult task, but one that I relish. I am always humbled by the amount of commitment that our communities show through their individual projects.

We try to ensure that the Eco-fund projects are as diverse and broad as possible, with our successful applicants ranging from schools, community groups, residential homes and individuals.

A key factor in our decision making is looking for the projects that will have as wide-reaching impact as possible on our islands’ sustainable heritage – whether that be through education, marine environment or simply in your own back garden. The options are endless!

What would you say to someone who wasn’t successful this year?

If you aren’t successful this year then please by all means apply again next year. We keep a record of who applies each year and try to use this information to guide our decision making in the following years.

Which previous Eco-Fund projects stand out the most to you?

This is a very difficult question but there are a few that spring to mind!

In Jersey:

The Société Jersiaise Marine Department were looking for some funding to purchase a C-pod. This is an underwater listening device that can track dolphins’ movements. This would enable the department to monitor how many dolphin pods are in our waters, and share this information with the French Coastal Guards.

We were able to sponsor one C-pod and the company that we purchased the C-pod from were so excited by the project that they halved the price and we ended up with two! This enabled far more data to be recorded. The Société has now created an app which enables any boat with a GPS system to upload their sighting of dolphins, thus further increasing the data availability. Watch the video:

In Guernsey:  

As part of our Keep Guernsey Green Award we pledged to plant trees worth £4,000 per year to offset our carbon footprint in business travel. We initiate this each year with Guernsey Trees for Life. We had a great collaboration with National Trust / GTTFL / Rocquettes Cider and Forest Primary School.

In the Forest Parish there is a National Trust site – Les Caches Farm – which had recently been renovated. Adjacent to this site was a field, and it had been decided to turn the field into a cider apple orchard to complement the cider press in the building. We worked with these four groups and planted the cider apple orchard which will be enjoyed by the community for many years to come. Watch the video to find out more: