Photo: Two brown bears fighting

Standing his ground, a Eurasian brown bear play-fights with his mother in remote woodlands along Finland's border with Russia. Across Europe, big bruins and other wildlife are making a comeback.

Photograph by Staffan Widstrand

The GEF—Northern Europe Conservation grants support both efforts in the field and public-education campaigns that inform individuals about global issues, connect conservation issues to daily life and enable people to take action. Conservation grants are awarded for innovative and applied approaches to conservation issues with potential for global application.

The objective of the GEF—Northern Europe Conservation grants is to support conservation activities around the world as they fit within the mission of the National Geographic Society. The fund will support projects that contribute significantly to the preservation and sustainable use of the Earth's biological and cultural resources. The program’s strength lies in supporting cutting-edge projects that might be overlooked by other organizations due to the risk involved in working with new investigators and in new fields.

While the GEF Conservation grants program acknowledges the need to preserve archaeological sites and artifacts, our current budget limits prevent us from funding such requests.


In order to be considered for funding, the applicant must be a resident of one of the following countries: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, or the United Kingdom.

Submissions must be made in English if they are to receive timely consideration by the Advisory Board.

Applicants are not expected to have Ph.D.s or other advanced degrees. However, applicants must provide a record of prior research or conservation action as it pertains to the proposed project.

Applicants planning work outside of Northern Europe should include at least one local collaborator as part of their fieldwork team.

Grant Amounts

While grant amounts vary greatly, the average award is €20000.

As National Geographic Society funds are intended to function as complementary support, applicants are strongly encouraged to seek additional funding from other funding agencies. GEF Conservation grants tend to act as seed money and are given for one year's research.

Grant Restrictions

National Geographic Society grants may not be used for indirect costs, overhead or other expenses not directly related to the project. Fringe benefits are also excluded, as are salaries.

Funds may not be used for travel to scientific/professional meetings or conferences, legal actions, land acquisition, endowments, construction of permanent field stations or publishing research results.

Grant recipients are expected to provide the National Geographic Society with rights of first refusal for popular publication of their findings.

Obtaining an Application Form

Applying for a grant from the Global Exploration Fund is a two-step process.

Step 1: Pre-Application

Before receiving an application form, each principal investigator must submit a pre-application form online. There are a few things you should know before doing so:

  • The pre-application form can be completed in multiple sessions. You will be allowed to save your work and complete it at another time.
  • You will be asked to upload an electronic copy of your curriculum vitae (CV) while completing the form. Instructions will be provided.
  • Please make sure that your browser is configured to receive cookies.
  • If you have any questions about the online pre-application form, please email GEFNEurope@ngs.org.
  • The Global Exploration Fund accepts pre-applications throughout the year. Please submit your pre-application at least eight months prior to anticipated project dates.

The principal investigator will be notified with a decision within eight weeks. If the pre-application is approved, the principal investigator will receive an email with a link to the full application online.

Fill out pre-application. You will be asked to create an account.

Access your saved pre-application form.

Step 2: Application

After receiving the application, the principal investigator must complete and submit the application online. There are a few things you should know before doing so:

  • The Global Exploration Fund accepts applications throughout the year. However, please allow up to six months from the receipt of your application for the GEF Advisory Board to formally review and consider it.
  • Previous grantees must first comply with all prior reporting and financial-accounting obligations before submitting applications for additional support.

The Advisory Board meets biannually to make funding decisions. Full applications should be submitted no later than June 19, 2016 in order to be considered at the next grant meeting in the autumn of 2016.


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