Open Air Laboratories (OPAL): A community-driven research programme
OPAL is an English national programme that takes scientists into the community to investigate environmental issues. Biological monitoring plays a pivotal role covering topics of: i) soil and earthworms; ii) air, lichens and tar spot on sycamore; iii) water and aquatic invertebrates; iv) biodiversity and hedgerows; v) climate, clouds and thermal comfort. Each survey has been developed by an inter-disciplinary team and tested by voluntary, statutory and community sectors. Data are submitted via the web and instantly mapped. Preliminary results are presented, together with a discussion on data quality and uncertainty. Communities also investigate local pollution issues, ranging from nitrogen deposition on heathlands to traffic emissions on roadside vegetation. Over 200,000 people have participated so far, including over 1000 schools and 1000 voluntary groups. Benefits include a substantial, growing database on biodiversity and habitat condition, much from previously unsampled sites particularly in urban areas, and a more engaged public. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Author(s): Davies, L; Bell, JNB; Bone, J; Head, M; Hill, L; Howard, C; Hobbs, SJ; Jones, DT; Power, SA; Rose, N; Ryder, C; Seed, L; Stevens, G; Toumi, R; Voulvoulis, N; White, PCL
Journal: Environmental Pollution