Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation

The Rufford Foundation

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Grant amount: Up to £5,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit Research Scientist Postdoctoral Researcher Graduate Student Faculty

Funding uses: Research, Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Argentina Expand all

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

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The Rufford Foundation is a UK registered charity that provides funding for small nature/biodiversity conservation projects and pilot programmes in developing countries. Through its Conference programme, the Foundation encourages the sharing of knowledge and best practice throughout the conservation world.

The Foundation has a broad scope of interest. As well as the conservation of animals in their habitat, it is also keen to support conservation work focusing on threatened habitats, and on other organisms such as plants, fungi, or insects.

There are five stages of funding and applications from conservationists:

  1. Rufford Small Grant: A grant of up to £5,000 available for nature conservation projects.
  2. 2nd Rufford Small Grant: A grant of up to £5,000; follows the successful usage of a Rufford Small Grant.
  3. Booster Grant: A grant of up to £10,000; follows the successful usage of a 2nd Rufford Small Grant.
  4. 2nd Booster Grant: A grant of up to £10,000; follows the successful usage of a Booster Grant.
  5. Completion Grant: A grant of up to £15,000; follows the successful usage of a 2nd Booster Grant and can only be given to an organization.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Applicants for a Rufford Small Grant should be based in a non-first world country AND in the early stages of their conservation career.
  • Please also ensure that you also fulfil at least one of the other current main criteria listed below.
    • Projects with direct conservation benefits to threatened habitats or species.
    • The fieldwork element of PhD or MSc studies, where there is a clear conservation output.
  • For all the grants there are basic eligibility criteria as outlined below: 
    • Projects must have a nature/biodiversity conservation focus.
    • Rufford Small Grants are designed to support small-scale or pilot projects, rather than providing a small amount of funding for a large-scale project
    • The Foundation has a broad scope of interest - as well as the conservation of particular threatened charismatic species, the protection of which is likely to benefit their natural habitat, it is also interested in those often neglected or less well known species.
      • In addition, the Foundation is also keen to support projects which go beyond a species-specific focus to provide habitat protection at a wider scale.
      • Beyond this, the overriding requirement is that the work must be structured to provide long-lasting and practical conservation outcomes on the ground.
      • There will often be a significant human element to a successful proposal, with community education / involvement being very important.
    • In general, the Foundation favours work at a habitat or ecosystem level rather than species-specific work.
      • However, we recognise that data gathering may be a critical element in developing a conservation or management strategy.
    • The Foundation seeks to fund those project leaders who intend to make a significant and long-lasting impact on their chosen subject.
      • This means that the applicant should intend to devote a considerable period of time to the project and set it up in such a way that it can have a long-term future - hence local team members are an essential part of the equation so that the project can carry on functioning usefully once the team leader moves on to other work.
    • If the work is part of a postgraduate study (MSc or PhD), there needs to be a strong emphasis on fieldwork with clear conservation benefits.
      • Any award will be for the field-based element.
      • Moreover, the judging panel will scrutinise how any application sits within our general criteria.
      • Any grant will need to cover a significant part of the MSc or PhD’s overall fieldwork cost
  • General Criteria for All Grants
    • Projects should focus on nature/biodiversity conservation activities in non-first world countries.
    • The grant requested must make up a significant part of the total budget.
    • The project should be a minimum of 12 months duration although each application is assessed on its own merit and the project length can be flexible.
    • Funds must be used predominantly for field-based activities.
    • The impact of the project must be pragmatic, measurable and long-lasting.
    • For projects where The Rufford Foundation is not the only funder, we will require evidence of support from the other sources before the funds are released.
    • Grants can only be paid to organisations (such as an NGO or university department) and not to an individual’s bank account.


  • The following types of projects will not generally be eligible:
    • Projects in first world countries.
    • Pure research with no obvious conservation benefit.
    • Expeditions, particularly where the applicant has to raise funds in order to participate.
    • Attending conferences or seminars.
  • The Foundation almost never funds projects in first world countries.
    • We do not support projects undertaken within EU countries.
    • We will not consider projects from first world applicants unless the project is in a non-first world country, has a very significant local capacity building element and is a high conservation priority.
    • Projects in less developed areas will take priority.
    • Those projects which offer opportunities to train local team members in the running of the project and those with an educational element for local communities are strongly preferred.
  • Restricted countries:
    • Nepal
      • Currently, we are not accepting applications from Nepal whilst we conduct an investigation into alleged misuse of grant funds.
    • Cuba and Iran
      • We deeply regret that due to circumstances beyond our control we are currently unable to accept any applications from these countries.
    • Bhutan
      • Applications will only be considered if they fulfil the following criteria:
        • They are from those who have graduated with a BSc degree in the past three years or from MSc/PhD students or those who have graduated from such studies in the past three years.
        • As per the Instructions for Applicants, this funding would be for fieldwork elements only.
        • Projects must also have direct conservation benefit to threatened habitats or species.
      • Any application that does not meet these criteria will be automatically rejected.