Promoting Scotland's cultural heritage

Support for Highlands & Islands natural and cultural assets.

The Scottish Government has invited Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to apply for European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) to establish a multi-million pound Challenge Fund to protect and promote the Highlands & Islands natural and cultural heritage assets.

The fund will support the sustainable development of the rich and varied natural and cultural assets in the Highlands & Islands, targeting the more rural parts of the region. It will bring sustainable and lasting local economic and social benefits, including increased visitor numbers and spend.

Welcoming SNH’s application at Ardvreck Castle, as part of a visit to Tongue and the Northern Highlands, Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“Tourism is a crucial element of the Highlands & Islands economy and it contributes to shaping the innovative offerings throughout the region – some of which I had the chance to experience first-hand during this visit.

“Having visited communities whose local economies are so significantly linked to tourism, it is reassuring to hear that this this fund will target those heritage assets in the more remote and rural parts of Scotland, bringing considerable social and economic benefits.

“The Scottish Government will continue to do all we can to support sustainable growth in tourism, working in partnership with local communities – in Assynt, throughout the Highlands & Islands and across Scotland.”

Mike Cantlay, SNH Chair, said: “A key priority for SNH is to help ensure tourism and other sectors benefit from, and invest in, Scotland’s high quality environment, and that's why we're particularly delighted to be considered to lead this new fund.

"Nature and culture are closely linked in the Highlands & Islands, and in many places they are central to the local economy, maintaining rural populations, jobs and skills. We want to make the most of new opportunities to spread those benefits to more rural communities in the coming years. We look forward to taking the next steps when we meet with stakeholders later this month.”


  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the ERDF programme in Scotland and is responsible for the implementation, management and effectiveness of funds distributed through the programmes.
  • SNH have submitted an application to Scottish Government (as Managing Authority for the ERDF Programme) and this is currently being progressed through the assessment process.
  • Further details are available on SNH website.
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