The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network, funded by the Big Lottery and led by Imperial College London, is a UK-wide partnership initiative that inspires communities to discover, enjoy and protect their local environments through citizen science-based activities.
The cornerstones of OPAL are six innovative and user-friendly surveys, which are provided to participants for free, and enable people to get out and monitor nature in their local environment:
- Soil and Earthworm
- Bugs Count
- Tree Health
A new, nationwide survey supporting school children to assess the suitability of habitats for pollinating insects will launch in 2016.
To date, OPAL has had a major impact, engaging people with nature, providing an exciting learning experience and generating data to help scientists understand the health of our natural environment. So far:
- Over 850,000 people have actively participated in OPAL surveys including over 129,000 (15%) from hard to reach groups.
- Over 2,000 schools have taken part in OPAL, many from areas of high deprivation
- Over 270,000 packs distributed to the public
- Over 50,000 surveys submitted
- Nearly 23,000 sites surveyed
- Over 20 research publications
OPAL surveys are great for use in parks and gardens to:
- Engage your supporters, provide them with a great learning experience and let them have fun
- Promote and involve people with your good causes
- Survey and monitor nature to help conserve your biodiversity, wildlife and plant collections
Check out the OPAL website to access all the free resources and to enter your results: http://www.opalexplorenature.org/