What is SMEEF?

The Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) is an innovative nature finance vehicle that facilitates investment in marine and coastal enhancement in Scotland. Through SMEEF users (and enthusiasts) of Scottish waters are able to voluntarily re-invest in the health and biodiversity of our seas by contributing to the Fund. The grants are then allocated on a competitive basis to enhancement focused projects. 

The unique placement of the Fund, which is managed by a Steering Group comprised of representatives from the Scottish Governments Marine Directorate, Crown Estate Scotland and NatureScot, provides exceptional insight and assures robust governance and transparency. 

Formally launched in May 2022, SMEEF has so far secured and distributed more than £3.3m to around 50 restoration and enhancement projects in Scottish coasts and seas. You can find out more about our Contributors and their impact in our Impact Report.

SMEEF contributes to delivering the outcomes in the Scottish Government’s Blue Economy Vision. It adheres to the Principles for Responsible Investment in Natural Capital and is one of the nine pillars of the Nature Conservation £1 Billion Challenge and Route Map. SMEEF will also assist with the National Strategy for Economic Transition.

Download the SMEEF Prospectus to learn more or watch our 2 minute video.

Why do we need SMEEF?

The climate and biodiversity emergencies have both been recognised by the Scottish Government and the public profile of environmental issues has never been higher.

The Green Finance institute estimated cost to restore nature in the UK is £56 billion, the central estimate for Scotland is £20 billion. This is of course a huge amount and because we simply don’t have enough public money to pay for this, we need to find ways to bring private finance to the table.

SMEEF provides a timely opportunity for businesses to make an important contribution to meeting Scotland’s environmental targets and to supporting the National Strategy for Economic Transition

The marine economy accounts for around 11% of the overall Scottish GVA*, equating to approximately £14.7 billion and this hugely important resource supports a wide range of growing industries, including:

  • Aquaculture where GVA increased by 58% to £354 million between 2013 and 2017,
  • Marine tourism where GVA increased by 28% and employment by 16% between 2008 and 2017,
  • Offshore wind, wave and tidal energy generation has increased by 142% between 2014 and 2018 and is set to increase further under ScotWind.

*GVA – Gross Value Added

SMEEF reflects the fact that Scotland’s seas are not only an incredibly rich resource of natural capital but also a shared space. Unfortunately, historically there has been limited emphasis on coastal and marine enhancement projects and associated funding and SMEEF is designed to help rectify this.

Employment opportunities

Nature based solutions to the biodiversity and climate emergencies, such as those funded by SMEEF, have the potential to quickly increase the range of employment opportunities in some of the most remote and communities in Scotland. In fact, between 2015 and 2019 the green jobs sector grew at five times the rate of all other jobs and accounts for one-third of all jobs growth in Scotland.  The 2021 Dasgupta Review* stated that the potential Nature Based Solutions job creation rate is ten times the creation rate associated with fossil fuels. This massive potential will be targeted by SMEEF in partnership with the relevant Scottish enterprise agencies.

*The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review, February 2021, UK Government 

What will SMEEF achieve?

SMEEF is designed to be an effective, science led long-term funding mechanism that will:

  1. Enable enhancement of marine habitats and address the biodiversity and climate emergencies
  2. Take a systems view, connecting interventions, considering full ecosystems and life cycles across the Scottish marine seascape
  3. Provide demonstrable corporate social responsibility opportunities, and
  4. Encourage wider research and development.

Facts and Figures about Scotland’s Seas

Scotland’s seas are vast and a significant amount of funding is required to protect and restore them.

Scotland’s seas are nearly six times larger than the land area of Scotland. That is 462,315 km2 using the definition of the “Scottish zone” in the Scotland Act 1998.

All facts and figures were taken from the Scottish Government’s Marine Directorate Information webpage and can be found here.

Restoration and enhancement occurs at all levels, from the sea bed to the surface.

The deepest point in the Scottish zone is the Rockall Trough, with a depth of around 2,500m. For comparison, the summit of Ben Nevis is 1,345 m above sea level.

All facts and figures were taken from the Scottish Government’s Marine Directorate Information webpage and can be found here.


Scotland has more than 900 islands, of which 118 are inhabited.

That means funding has to reach even the most remote locations in Scotland.

All facts and figures were taken from the Scottish Government’s Marine Directorate Information Webpage and can be found here.

As of March 2022, there are 233 sites for nature conservation covering 228,118 km2 or 37% of the continental shelf area adjacent to Scotland. 

All facts and figures were taken from the Scottish Government’s Marine Directorate Information webpage and can be found here.

 Photos by ©Philip Price/seawilding.org (Image 1), ©Calum Duncan/Marine Conservation Society (Image 2) and ©Laurie Campbell/Nature Scot (Image 3)

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