Environmental Trust - Restoration and rehabilitation


Advice provided

Advice date:

June 2017


The Environmental Trust requested that the Commission undertake an evaluation of the Trust's Restoration and Rehabilitation program, as implemented for the years 2010-2015. Our evaluation was to consider how the program can be better tailored to deliver improved outcomes for the environment and the community. The Restoration and Rehabilitation Program is a flagship program of the Trust that has been funding projects for local priorities for over 25 years.

In June 2017, we provided a final report to the Trust.

Overall, we found that the program is well-run. The Trust provides clear guidance for applicants, grant recipients and technical reviewers. The application process is rigorous and transparent. Sound governance structures and processes are also in place. These aspects provide a strong platform on which to base the program going forward.

While there is no documented program design, in practice a general program logic has emerged. The Trust funding contributes to an apparent gap, namely small to medium sized grants for local environmental priorities, implemented in a short to medium time frame. More specifically, much of the funding is used to support rehabilitation of areas impacted by environmental weeds through activities such as weeding, fencing and replanting. The majority of projects are also geared towards protection of endangered species and/or habitats. It is timely for a comprehensive reassessment of the program design that establishes clear outcomes and achievable objectives for the program..

The evaluation demonstrates that the proponents are contributing substantial financial and in-kind contributions. Over the evaluation period, the total funding provided by the Trust was $4,147,940 leveraging $6,855,062 in combined financial and in-kind contributions, indicating the Trust is successfully leveraging additional funds. Several project proponents noted the funds are critical for their organisations and the work undertaken would not be done without the grant funds.

However, it is not possible to assess the extent to which these achievements are likely to deliver the program's high level objectives. The data collected for projects is predominantly output focused and there is insufficient information to assess the extent of environmental or capacity building outcomes.

The Trust has a strong focus on ensuring equity of grant funding. Overall, their project selection represents good practice. The process for selecting projects is clear and transparent and incorporates a Technical Review Committee with broad representation.

We made recommendations related to program design, governance and administration, application process and selection of projects, and communication to further improve the program.

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