OPAL's national citizen science surveys

surveying groupsOver the life of the OPAL programme there have been eight major national surveys, and numerous smaller or regional surveys. The surveys explore the health of our soils and trees, the quality of our air and water, how humans impact the climate, the distribution of invertebrates, and the importance of hedges and pollinators.

The surveys use simple methodologies, readily accessible equipment (either provided by OPAL or common around the home), and avoid scientific jargon, guiding participants through all the steps necessary to complete their investigation. The surveys were designed to be suitable for ages 13 upwards. Younger or less-able participants can take part with appropriate support or with suitably adapted materials. Since 2007 participants in the OPAL surveys have been submitting their data either by freepost or online.

To date OPAL has received over 70,000 survey returns. This information has helped OPAL scientists build up a picture of the UK’s natural environment and has resulted in numerous academic publications and reports. Along with OPAL’s national surveys, a range of local environmental monitoring surveys have been developed by OPAL’s Community Scientists, ranging from invasive crayfish monitoring to hedgehog surveys. These projects have often arisen from local communities identifying topics of environmental concern and then working with OPAL Community Scientists to develop methodologies, carry out activities and analyses, and take action on findings. See what was discovered in each of the surveys in the OPAL Science Summary which summarises some key findings from academic papers, reports and recent analyses: Read our OPAL Science Summary.

The surveys are now closed for data entry.  However, you can still use the surveys to investigate the health of the environment in your local area.

To find out more about each OPAL survey, please follow the links in the left-hand menu.