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Open Air Laboratories (OPAL)

OPAL encourages people to get back in touch with nature by enabling them to explore and study their local environments.

Inactive project



Children exploring nature. Photo: OPAL.

New wildlife recording website for university

May 2013 – End of an era. The current phase of the OPAL project has now concluded.

To find out what we did, download a summary (PDF, 338 KB)

Through partnerships nation-wide, OPAL runs projects which anyone can get involved with. From playing fields and window boxes to business parks or beaches, all spaces are different and all are important.

The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network received an £11.7 million grant from The Big Lottery Fund in August 2007. OPAL is encouraging people to get back in touch with nature by enabling them to explore and study their local environments.

The five-year programme brings scientists and the public closer together, allowing environmental issues to be explored which have both local and global relevance. OPAL aims to create a new generation of nature-lovers by getting people to engage with the natural world around them.

OPAL is led by Imperial College London, the Natural History Museum and the Open University with nine regional partner universities. The University of York is responsible for delivering the project in Yorkshire and Humberside.

The Yorkshire and Humberside OPAL projects are run by the University of York. These projects focus on an environmental issue of concern to local urban communities. This could be air pollution, industrial contamination, soil quality, biodiversity, green space provision: the exact topic is determined by the community through a process called GIS (Geographical Information Systems) for Participation, or participatory mapping.

This is where members of a community actively map their local environment and is a great way of encouraging people to share information about the places they live.

Funder: Big Lottery Fund.

Related people

Steve Cinderby

Senior Research Fellow

SEI York

Sarah West

Centre Director

SEI York

Alison Dyke

Research Fellow

SEI York

Rachel Pateman


SEI York

Topics and subtopics
Air : Cities
Related centres
SEI York
United Kingdom

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