Open Air Laboratories (OPAL)

Want to learn a bit more about your local environment, get out of the house, have fun and take part in an important national scientific survey?

The Open Air Laboratories, (OPAL), network is a National Lottery funded, UK-wide citizen science initiative that allows you to get hands-on with nature, whatever your age, background or level of ability. OPAL in Wales is being run by a partnership between the North Wales Wildlife Trust, Cofnod (The North Wales Local Biological Records Centre), and the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, who employ a network of Community Scientists to work to support community groups in their regional area.

OPAL offers high quality reusable resources, training and other support to enable community groups and individuals to carry out up to 6 different surveys using easy to identify indicator species. These surveys were developed by a number of organisations and universities, to enable the general public to gather data, which will be collated and will help produce a snapshot of the state of the environment in the UK, and could also help demonstrate wider environmental variations, such as climate change or species adaptation:-

 The six current surveys are:-

  • Bug Count (finding and recording invertebrates)
  • Water Quality (looking at water clarity, and freshwater invertebrate)
  • Air Quality (using Lichens on trees as indicators of pollution).
  • Biodiversity (looking at life in hedgerows)
  • Soil Quality (using earthworm species as indicators)
  • Tree Health (the latest survey to be developed, in response to the latest threat of disease to oak and ash trees)

These surveys are suitable for all ages and abilities, and are designed to be easily repeatable, allowing groups to monitor the wildlife in their local area over a long period, or compare a number of sites within their local area.

Iwan Edwards who is based at the North Wales Wildlife Trust offices in Mold will be happy to visit your group, to assist with OPAL in your local area, and is happy to work in either Welsh or English; the OPAL resources are available in either language.

Iwan can be contacted on 07584 311 583 or

More information can be found on our website

  Find out more about OPAL