A project to inspire the next generation of nature-lovers in the UK is launched at the Natural History Museum today
Wildlife presenter, Steve Leonard, attended the launch of Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), a Lottery-funded £11.7 million initiative that will encourage people to discover, enjoy and protect their local environments.
OPAL will encourage more people to get involved with nature in their local environments
‘OPAL is a great way for people to find out more about the wildlife that exists right on their doorstep,’ says Leonard. ‘By getting involved in these fun and free activities, people can help uncover new insights into the environment where they live.’
Anyone can take part in OPAL activities, whether in their local park, playing field, beach or anywhere nature lurks.
The project is a nationwide partnership running until 2012, led by Imperial College and includes the Natural History Museum, Open University and other universities, parks and the Met Office.
Different areas of the UK are focusing on their particular local environment concerns. For example in the South West, activities will find out more about the effects of pollution on woodland and in the East Midlands, activities are focusing on conserving precious heathland.
Children discover more about nature at the OPAL launch today
OPAL aims to give people the skills and tools, with help from experts, to identify, monitor and record wildlife in their local area, leading to the first community-led study of the natural world.
Anyone can take part in 5 national surveys investigating soil, air, biodiversity, water and climate that run until 2011. The first survey is for soils and earthworms and begins in March 2009.
The OPAL website www.OPALexplorenature.org is the place to start if you want to find out more and there is also a special weekend of festive-themed events planned on 6 and 7 December in London, York and Plymouth.
Margaret Cooney, Deputy Director Policy & Partnerships, Big Lottery Fund, concludes, ‘The Big Lottery Fund is pleased to fund this programme which encourages experts and communities to work alongside each other to help address the environmental challenges we face today.’
‘By bringing these two parties together, OPAL will promote a greater awareness of the environmental issues which affect us all.’