Phone: 01394 445225 | Email: schaonb@suffolk.gov.uk

Sustainable Development Fund

Group of schoolkids by a pond

The Sustainable Development Fund is available to a variety of local community and conservation organisations (or individuals) to support projects for the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).


There is an annual application process. The Sustainable Development Fund is a fund provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to enable local communities and other organisations to make a difference in AONBs by promoting and achieving sustainable development, partnership, and social inclusion.


The AONB manages the Fund and works with local organisations to encourage project development and applications. These projects focus on integrating the environment, local communities, and the economy so that the unique landscape of the AONB is conserved and its natural beauty enhanced, making it more enjoyable for all.

We usually have £40,000 in the fund to award each year and can award up to 70% of project costs. Organisations who are seeking a grant up to/in the region of £500 can apply for 100% of the total project costs.


This is intended to support small projects and grassroots organisations where finding match funding would be prohibitive to delivering important local conservation. Please note the Community and Conservation Fund is a specific fund for small grants and may be more appropriate for your application.

The Sustainable Development Fund is now closed for applications.

Sustainable Development Fund Case Studies

A sunset on the horizon with birds in the foreground

Art Branches

Art Branches is a not-for-profit organisation aimed to improve people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing through provision of creative group and individual workshops. 

Art Branches were awarded £2,320 from the Coast & Heaths AONB Sustainable Development Fund in the 2020-21 year to deliver creative workshops, including photography walks along the River Stour and River Orwell, all with the overall aim of supporting mental health and suicide reduction campaign amongst men in urban areas of Ipswich and the Shotley Peninsula. 

RSPB Stour Wood

Stour Wood lies within the new additional area of Coast and Heaths AONB, on the Essex side of the Stour Estuary. Public transport links make it an accessible outdoor space for the towns of Harwich, Colchester, and Ipswich.

In 2020, RSPB Stour Wood was awarded a £1,061 Sustainable Development Fund Recovery Grant to fund a project to improve accessibility and visitor experience, as well as promoting sustainable tourism, by replacing old, damaged gates which had been significantly vandalised and waymarks that were missing.

The Sustainable Development Fund is open to applications from across the Coast & Heaths AONB and the area is outlined and highlighted on Google Maps.

For information and advice about the Sustainable Development Fund please contact Oka Last at Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB for an informal discussion, on 01473 265558 or by email.


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