Wednesday, 28 July 2010

OPAL project: an opportuntity to take part in a free educational survey of hedges this autumn

We will be taking part in the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project , an educational project being run by Natural History Museum, Imperial College London and thirteen universities and educational organisations across England. This survey will focus on the local biodiversity value of hedges. It will involve 30-45 minutes of fieldwork which can be carried out in gardens or local area. Participants complete activities that assess the hedge’s structure and management, food supply, invertebrate diversity and importance as a wildlife corridor. The survey is structured so that each of the separate components tell a story about the hedge’s importance for wildlife.

For the Biodiversity Survey, a great deal of survey work has been done in the past on hedges in farmland, but no-one knows much about the current national picture of the condition of hedges in urban areas (especially in gardens), so this survey really will add to our scientific knowledge.

Taking part in the OPAL Biodiversity Survey is easy. All you need is safe access to at least one side of a hedge (hedge needs to be minimum 3m in length). This doesn’t need to be a classic farmland hedge of hawthorn – garden hedges (e.g. privet and laurel), a patch of ornamental shrubs at the edge of a car park (if safe to access) or a line of trees with leaves close to the ground will be equally as valid.

OPAL has funding to supply individual survey packs (one per child) to home educators throughout England. If you are interested in receiving survey packs, or if you would like to discuss the OPAL project in more detail, please email

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