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credit: Aidan Maccormick/

Photo courtesy of Aidan Maccormick/

Scotland: the very name conjures up images of vast landscapes, looming mountains (282 of them over 3,000 ft!) and wild beauty. If you’ve never visited, This is Scotland.

We asked EFN’s Scotland Coordinator, Julie Christie, to summarise the need for environmental philanthropy in the country. Here’s what she said:

For its size, Scotland punches far above its weight in terms of natural capital:

• Scotland’s seas make up around 61% of the UK’s total marine area and we have over 11,000 miles of coastline.

• We’re home to 70% of the UK’s seabirds, 75% of the UK’s red squirrels, one third of the world’s grey seals and the largest blanket bogs in Europe.

• We boast a range of unique species and habitats, for example the iconic capercaillie, pine marten, Scottish Primrose, White-script Lichen and globally important areas of Atlantic rainforest.

Scotland is a breeding ground for innovation that can help change the world. We’re small enough to get things done, yet big enough to demonstrate scale.

‘Often the rest of the UK will follow once something has happened in Scotland – so in terms of seeing change happen at the large scale, Scotland is a great place to start.’ Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, EFN Where the Green Grants Went Scotland, 2017

‘We have supported environmental work for many years now, and in that time feel that we have developed a good understanding of the environmental charities operating in Scotland, including the fact that many of them are small or medium sized. We are often struck by the ways in which these organisations deliver highly ambitious and effective work that benefits not only their cause areas, but the wider UK environmental movement.’ John Ellerman Foundation, EFN Supporting effective environmental action in Scotland, 2023

A growing group of committed funders (including the William Grant Foundation, the Highlands & Islands Environment Foundation and many others — generalist and specialist, located in and beyond Scotland) are working hard to support a really vibrant Scottish environment sector to protect and restore our precious natural resources for everyone’s benefit.

Rapid climate change combined with intensive farm and woodland management, habitat loss, pollution and industrial fishing and fish farming activity are key drivers of biodiversity loss and declines in the health of our coastal, marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Again and again, environmental NGOs have proven that they can turn funds into significant wins for the environment in Scotland, restoring landscapes, changing policy and protecting our coasts.

I joined EFN in March 2020 to network and galvanise individual donors and funders and ramp up support for Scottish environmental work. As one of our members said, ‘The best place to start on the journey funding environmentally motivated causes is a cup of tea with EFN staff.’ There’s never been a more important time to put the kettle on and ask me how you can get involved!

EFN’s work in Scotland is generously supported by the William Grant Foundation, Dunlossit and Islay Community Trust, Craignish Trust, Castansa Trust, Highlands and Islands Environment Foundation, Cycling Scotland and an anonymous donor.