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Volunteer Conservation Fund

Managed by the South Downs National Park Trust in partnership with the Volunteer Ranger Service this fund will allocate approximately £5,000 annually to projects that enhance the National Park in a way that aligns with the Partnership Management Plan. The average grant per project in previous years has been £2,000.

Applications for this year’s grant are now CLOSED.

We aim to increase and diversify volunteering opportunities that support the National Park, and therefore welcome organisations that ensure their activities are inclusive of under-represented groups.

To be kept informed about further grant rounds please contact the Grants Officer at

Guidance Notes

image shows a landrover with several volunteers resting alongside it during a break from conservaton task in a sunny meadow
Volunteers resting after a conservation task at Lynch Down Meadow – Credit: Sam Moore

The following organisations are eligible to apply:

  • Not for profit organisations
  • Voluntary/community groups
  • Community Interest Companies
  • Registered Charities
  • Parish Councils
  • Landowners/land managers needing support to enhance environmentally sensitive areas for the benefit of the wider public. This should still be a volunteer-led project

In order to be eligible projects must:

  • Align with the outcomes in the South Downs National Park Management Plan
  • Be not-for-profit (commercial landowners may apply porviding the project aims to enhance environmentally sensitive areas for the benefit of the wider public)
  • Take place within the South Downs National Park
  • Not have started. We cannot fund items retrospectively
  • Be environmentally sustainable and show how the outcomes achieved will be maintained in future
image shows two volunteers and a ranger completing conservation tasks of clearing pine on heathland
Volunteers on heathland – credit SDNPA

The Volunteer Ranger Service

The fund was initially set up using funds belonging to the Volunteer Ranger Service (VRS) Committee. The Committee help to make decisions on applications as part of the grants panel.

The VRS volunteers are a group of approximately 300 people who provide practical/physical support for a range of environmental, leisure and heritage projects across the Park and are led by professional staff from the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA). The SDNPA area teams may be able to loan equipment, offer training or provide additional volunteer support if this is necessary to carry out your project successfully.

Please let the Grants Officer know before making an application if you think you will need extra input from the SDNPA. There is then an opportunity to tell us on the application form if you think SDNPA volunteers could help, although this is not a requirement.

For details of the types of work that can be funded, match funding requirements and payment terms, please see the guidance notes.  

The deadline for the current grant round is the 31 March 2024 with grant decisions being made by the beginning of June.

image shows several people using telescopes and binoculars at the newly renovated bird hide at Lewes Railway land trust.
The recently renovated bird hide at Lewes Railway Land Trust – with some funding from the Volunteer Conservation FundCredit – Lewes Railway Land Trust

The video below highlights some of our fantastic volunteers and the difference that they continue to make.

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