Horizons Regional Council is calling for applications to its community grants programme, with $20,000 available to support environmental initiatives.

The programme helps encourage and support local community groups, schools, early childcare centres and iwi/hapū, with not-for-profit projects designed to enhance the region's natural environment.

Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon says applications will be assessed on environmental benefits, feasibility, community involvement and long-term benefits.

"In the past we have granted funding to a range of projects such as outdoor classrooms, native tree planting, wetland preservation, and trapping predators," says Gordon.

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"More often than not we help groups that simply need a little funding to get their projects under way. It's really satisfying to provide this support, as well as expert advice where possible."

Gordon says applications that provide opportunities for the public to learn more about the environment and encourage greater use of the region's facilities and amenities will be considered favourably.

"We receive frequent proposals for beautification planting and vegetable gardens. While these are great ideas, they don't focus on engagement with the natural environmental aspect of the programme, so we ask that applicants have a decent read of the grant guidelines."

Last year Horizons funded 12 projects which ranged from a variety of activities across the region and received between $670 - $6380 each.

"We gave out several grants to schools to improve their natural areas in a bid to enable students to better engage and learn about our environment.

"We also gave grants for projects which aim to see our remaining wetlands being cared for and enhanced by their communities."

The closing date for applications is 8am Monday, May 13. For further information please visit www.horizons.govt.nz or freephone Horizons on 0508 800 800.