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Open Air Laboratories (OPAL)

How can Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) help me?

Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) empowers people and communities to explore and engage with nature through science. The OPAL network is led by Imperial College London and includes leading museums, universities and environmental organisations across the UK.

Golf courses in the UK cover an area roughly equivalent to the Lake District National Park. These courses therefore represent potentially huge value to UK wildlife, and how they are managed can have a significant impact on biodiversity.

By working with the golf industry, OPAL hope to learn more about the environmental benefits offered by golf courses but also to identify and share best management practices for the natural and built environment. This will also allow OPAL to outline the importance of the golf industry to the natural environment, as well as the value of the golf industry’s work to manage and enhance the natural elements of its golf courses.

Citizen Science Surveys

OPAL develop activities and resources, including the ‘citizen science’ surveys, which allow people to get closer to their local environment while collecting important scientific data on topics from tree health to air pollution. They are currently piloting the use of our citizen science surveys to monitor biodiversity and evaluate the environmental quality of golf courses.

This approach offers the opportunity for golf course managers to engage with local communities including conservation groups and schoolchildren. By gaining a better understanding of how golf courses support wildlife, OPAL hope to develop a simple method of increasing the area of courses friendly to nature.