SDF Grants (Wales only)

What sort of activities can be funded by SDF?

Listen to our Podcast about a recent drystone walling project supported by the SDF to find out more. The team behind the ‘Great Wall of The Narth’ – John Dunkleman and Ernie Phillips (pictured above) – talked to Sarah Sawyer (then Wye Valley AONB Community Links Officer) and Sarah Tindle (Recreation and Partnerships Officer at Natural Resources Wales), giving insight into the sorts of projects that might be eligible. 


What is the purpose of the fund?

The Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) is available in the Welsh part of the Wye Valley AONB. It can be used to support innovative and sustainable projects involving local communities within and adjacent to the AONB. The grant is delivered by the Wye Valley AONB Unit, on behalf of the Welsh Government.

The SDF aims, through partnership, to develop and test ways of achieving a more sustainable way of living in a landscape of great natural beauty and diversity. This grant fund seeks to conserve and enhance the local characteristics of wildlife, landscape, land use and community. Sustaining the social well-being and economic viability of communities are also important aims of SDF. The Fund is for practical, innovative schemes that engage local communities.  Projects that will be supported must meet the statutory purpose of the Wye Valley AONB, which is to conserve and enhance its natural beauty.

How much money is available?

Around £100,000 is available for projects in Wales each year. Applications can be for small grants of less than £1,000, or larger grants of up to £25,000 in exceptional circumstances.

Who can apply for funding?

The scheme is available to any organisation, including community or voluntary groups, local authorities, as well as the private sector and individuals. The private sector and individuals must demonstrate that their projects have a wider public benefit.  The proposed project must meet the purpose of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the objectives of the scheme and be located in, or have direct benefit to, the Wye Valley AONB. Your project must comply with any relevant regulatory requirements e.g. planning permission, building regulations etc.

Examples of projects, which may be funded by SDF:

  • Schools projects – such as the management of grounds for wildlife, or for energy, waste, and traffic reduction initiatives 
  • Incorporation of locally sourced materials renewable energy, or energy efficiency components, and or the use of traditional building skills into the design of public or communal buildings   
  • Transport projects to reduce car use and improve health by increased activity    
  • Enhancement of village open spaces for local use (e.g. community activities) and wildlife and/or restoration of historic features e.g. village pond, community orchard or traditional boundaries 
  • Community projects which conserve the elements of culture and social well-being e.g. film club, local heritage exhibitions
  • Training programmes to safeguard traditional skills through modern apprenticeship, skills exchange e.g. hedge laying, stone walling, conservation management   
  • Feasibility research and/or the development of innovative products and initiatives such as renewable/green energy schemes.

Landscape & Biodiversity Enhancements Grants: The SDF grant can support works at a rate of 50% of the total cost up to a maximum of £3,000.  The grant is aimed at small scale holdings, community councils and community spaces, or where existing agri-environment grants are not available but where biodiversity gains can engage and benefit those who live within the local environment. Eligible works may include:

  • Orchard planting/gapping up
  • Hedgerow management
  • Dry-stone wall restoration
  • Life sustaining work to veteran trees
  • Pollarding, coppicing and activities relating to the promotion or conservation of biodiversity

Apply: First steps

Contact Lucinda James, AONB Community Links Officer – – 07956 452770  /  01600 710844  – in first instance, with a brief outline of your proposal and your contact details and she will get back to you.

Case Study 1

Monmouthshire Meadows – Grassland Fungi Booklet

SDF Grant: £1,000

SDF funding helped the Monmouthshire Meadows group produce a lavishly illustrated, 330 page field guide to grassland fungi to help promote the vital role of fungi in grassland ecology. A group of skilled volunteers and specialists worked on the book, undertaking extensive surveys and fieldwork in the Lower Wye Valley.

orange fungi

The project team identified 177 species of fungi commonly found in meadows and other grasslands in the UK, such as Waxcaps, Tongues, Spindles and Pink Gills. More than 800 photographs illustrate the key identification points whilst technical terms are kept to a minimum. A launch day was attended by over 100 people from a range of organisations including the Wildlife Trusts and Plant Life. The book has proved popular and sold well within the Wye Valley AONB and beyond. Copies can be purchased from the distributors for £19.99.

Case Study 2

Nurturing our Nature (Llandogo School Pond Project) – Friends of Llandogo School

SDF Grant:  £1,347

The Nurturing our Nature project saw parents, children and project volunteers working together at Llandogo Primary School to clear overgrowth from around the pond, removing an old bridge and creating a gentle shelf within the pond before planting with native species.  They created amphibian and reptile homes using log piles and terracotta pots and reptile monitoring refuges using corrugated roofing. Participants also learnt how to prune the orchard trees, re-stake them and prepare the meadow area underneath to increase the area of hay meadow surrounding the trees. They painted new nest boxes and put them up around the school grounds. Wildlife recording boards were made for the children to show just how much wildlife had been attracted to their new school pond.

llandogo school pond

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