Crucial to the longevity of a project beyond any initial implementation or ‘capital works’ phase, is that there are sufficient funds, or the means to generate such funds, to enable the project to be properly used and looked after. The issue must be considered at the very outset of any project and needs to be integral to project planning. This section looks at some aspects of economic sustainability.
Long-term costs: Continued operation of a public access site with semi-natural habitats will entail a number of management, operational and possibly development costs. Long-term planning, particularly the development of a business plan, is an important tool for predicting and managing these costs.
Long-term funding: One way of financing ongoing costs is to secure grants, donations or public sector funding. This is funding that is not earned, but secured from organisations that can be convinced the project is worth supporting. There are a number of possible routes to such funding that should be considered.
Income streams: Another mechanism for the long-term economic sustainability of a site is to create ways in which it can generate or earn income. A wide range of methods have been used by projects, such as timber production, licensing angling or motorcycling, or growing and selling wildflower seed.
Financial responsibility: Whatever mechanism is used to secure finances, the management of income and expenditure needs to be a clearly defined role. There are a number of attributes an organisation taking this role on must have and the role itself must be carried out to certain standards to ensure accountability and transparency.
Financial monitoring: Monitoring a project’s finances together with the use of appropriate indicators will help track and predict financial health. Financial monitoring has the dual advantages that money is relatively easy to quantify and there are widely recognised systems for doing and reporting this.
Long term costs will be incurred and must be budgeted for.
Long term funding can secure a projects future sustainability.
New income streams can enhance a projects scope and sustainability.
Financial responsibility will ensure that all monies are planned and accounted for.
Strict control of the finances is essential to the sustainability of a project.
This information is intended as a guide and, while it is as accurate and up to date as we can make it, it should not be used in place of specialist legal, financial or commercial advice.