OPENER and ENCOMPASS are among six initiatives funded by the NERC's £500,000 Engaging Environments programme.
They will "build bigger, better and more meaningful engagement in the enormous range of environmental topics that affect our daily lives," Alison Robinson, Director of Corporate Affairs at NERC, said.
OPENER will identify new ways for researchers to involve people in their work through citizen science.
Every year, thousands of people collect data from our coasts, woodlands and rivers to help inform scientists on the state of the environment. However, more can be done to involve people in such activities.
Dr Hilary Geoghegan of the University of Reading, which is leading the one-year project, said: "People are more interested in environmental research when they’re able to make a connection to their own lives. Yet, only a minority understand or regularly engage with environmental research.
"OPENER will combine the public's curiosity for the natural world with the increased desire among researchers and businesses to expand public engagement."
ENCOMPASS, led by the University of Birmingham, will help introduce researchers to community groups.
Earthwatch will help set up community-led activities at a number of locations. These include the futuristic Birmingham Institute of Forest Research Free Air Carbon Enrichment (BIFoR FACE) facility in Staffordshire, which looks at the impact of climate and environmental change on woodland, and the Lapworth Museum of Geology, a 2017 Museum of the Year finalist.
Four other projects – Climate Consortium, led by the University of Leeds; Engaging Environments Hub, led by the National Co-Ordinating Centre for Public Engagement; BLUEPRINT, led by the Marine Biological Association; and Climate Stories, led by the University of Exeter – have also been awarded funding by NERC.