Funding sources

There are several possibilities for funding of connectivity projects. Funding programmes exist on the international, European, national and regional level. In some countries there are also municipal funding opportunities. The private sector is also increasingly applying biodiversity offsetting measures on development schemes as part of their corporate social responsibility programmes.

Rainer Sturm /
Rainer Sturm /

International funding

Projects relating to the global environment can apply for funding at an independent financial organization GEF (Global Environment Facility). It provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

European funding

Various EU financial instruments can be used to help build a green infrastructure.

1. European funding for nature conservation (LIFE+)
LIFE+ funding has different thematic orientations:
- Nature and Biodiversity (in particular Natura 2000)
- Environment Policy and Governance
- Information and Communication

There are yearly calls, the last call of the current program period will be in 2013. The deadline for submission in the 2011 call is the 18/07/2011.
Under the EU LIFE-Biodiversity fund, projects can be co-financed that improve the functional connectivity of wildlife habitats and improve the movement of species between protected areas such as Natura 2000. LIFE-Environment also offers possibilities to fund green infrastructure elements in urban and peri-urban areas and supports projects that establish linkages between forested areas. LIFE-Information funds communication and awareness raising campaigns related to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation.
Criteria for selection of appropriate funding scheme are:
- cost categories needed (e.g. investment)
- structure of partner consortium (public/non-public)
- eligibility of actions foreseen
- time line of planned actions
- co-funding rate
- innovative aspects
- cross links to other sectors (e.g. energy)

2. Cross-border co-operation programmes (Interreg IVA)
In the framework of the European Territorial Co-operation objective cooperation between neighbouring countries is essentially about "filling the gaps" through agreed cross-border "analysis and response" strategies, formulated in each of the 52 cross-border programmes. It deals with a wide range of issues, among others with improving joint management of natural resources.
These programmes also address the Alpine territory:
- Operational Programme 'Germany (Bavaria) - Austria'
- Operational Programme 'Alpenrhein - Bodensee - Hochrhein'
- Operational programme 'Italy - France (Alps - ALCOTRA)'
Operational Programme 'France-Switzerland INTERREG IVA'
- Operational Programme 'Italy - Austria'
- Operational programme 'Italy-Switzerland'
- Operational Programme 'Italy - Slovenia'
- Operational Programme 'Slovenia - Austria'

General information on cross-border co-operation in the EU is available here.

2. Interreg IVB Alpine Space Programme
The Alpine Space Programme is the EU transnational cooperation programme for the Alps. During the period 2007-2013, the programme is investing in impact-oriented projects, which among others address environmental issues.
The fourth and probably also the last call will start on October 26th 2011 with the announcement of the terms of references. The expressions of interest are to be submitted until January 21st 2012. The preselection is planned for Mid-March, whereas the completed proposals are to be submitted until April 27th 2012.
Independently from these deadlines you can always get in touch with the Alpine Space Programme contact points to discuss the probability of your project being funded.
The contenst of the Programme after 2014 are currently in preparation.

3. 7th European Framework Research Programme (FP7)
FP7 supports research and technological development in different fields, among others also in environment and climate change field.

4. Regional Development Funds and the Rural Development Fund provide a wide range of tools that can be used to enhance spatial connectivity and restore natural ecosystems across the wider countryside. They can also be used to support the economic diversification of land uses and the creation of multifunctional land use areas which are based on maintaining natural ecosystems.
How can green infrastructure be financed through the European Regional Development Fund? The "SURF Nature" project gives answers to this question in its "Thematic Booklet on Green Infrastructure

5. Agri- or forest-environment schemes can support measures to extensify production, limit pesticide or fertiliser use and encourage wildlife friendly practices aimed at restoring biodiversity and ecosystems functioning. They also assist in the maintenance of landscape features that are important for connectivity, such as hedgerows, unfarmed field margins, woodland patches or streams.

National funding

Projects can apply for funding at national biodiversity funding programmes, which are research and implementation oriented.

Regional and municipal funding

Some regional governments and municipalities (e.g. Eco-Account in German municipalities) also offer funding for green infrastructure projects.

Private funding

E.g companies / foundations might offer possibilities for private funding of connectivity projects.

Overview on funding possibilities in Alpine countries

* Public funding
* Private sponsorship
* Some projects are funded by NGOs or associations (e.g. hunting)

* A budget (calculation in progress) will be allocated by the state to the implementation of the green and blue network (“trame verte et bleue”, see link 1 and link 2)


* Federal funding program on biodiversity "Bundesförderprogramm Biologische Vielfalt"


* Focus of funding on BayernNetzNatur
* Programmes furthering nature conservation, agriculture and forest farming, water management
* The foundation Bayerischer Naturschutzfonds
* Altogether approx. 210 million € per year
* Sponsors such as foundations and companies

Italy (preliminary)
Generally speaking, funding for ecological network activities can be obtained through the following channels:

• Regional funding
• Funding associated with measures for farming and specifically the “Programma Sviluppo Rurale” [Rural Development Programme]
• Banks and foundations associated with them

* The government is funding NGO’s for nature restoration projects
* Private funding of NGO’s for network programs

* National budget provides each year a support to the international Alpine Network of Protected Areas though the Alpine convention budget.

* Integrative approach is basic principle for national Natura 2000 implementation, thus financial burden of the network is in hands of each sector (e. g. forestry, agriculture…). In case of investments the Polluters-Pay principle is practised. Some funding is related to particular projects.

* Public funding
* Some projects are funded by NGOs or associations (e.g. hunting)
* Public funding is available for OQV/OQE (more information in German, French, Italian) forest projects or hydraulic engineering projects. Bonuses are paid for realising connectivity.

Source of the overview: Summary of Country Reports, Annex 3 of the Sixth report of the Platform to the Permanent Committee of the Alpine Convention (Document PC 40/8), 2009.

How to develop a funding strategy

© Viktor Mildenberger
© Viktor Mildenberger

- define questions to be answered

- define objectives for future work (systematic catalogues of objectives with time line)

- define thematic areas

- select appropriate funding schemes for single topics

- think of constant support for continous development of project applications

- try to organise political support

(Source: blue! advancing european projects)