OPAL (open air laboratories) is developing a wide range of local and national programmes to encourage people from all backgrounds to get back in touch with nature. The project also generates valuable scientific data concerning the state of our environment. By bringing scientists, amateur-experts, local interest groups and the public closer together, lasting relationships are being formed and environmental issues of local and global relevance are being explored.
Trees are vital – bringing nature into urban areas, supporting the rural economy, providing food and habitats for wildlife, and helping to combat climate change. However, our trees are under threat. The number of pests and diseases attacking them has increased in the last few years. The government has already stepped up its activity to protect trees, and you can help too, by taking part in the OPAL tree health survey, designed in collaboration with Forest Research and FERA.
Westland Countryside Stewards along with volunteers, will be carrying out tree surveys at Kilkhampton Common. No previous experience is necessary, just a keen interest. Surveys will involve checking trees for pests & diseases and logging specific information about the appearance of the tree. No climbing will be involved.
By surveying, you will help scientists draw a picture of the health of Britain’s most common trees. You will also learn more about the trees around you and how long they may have been growing in your neighbourhood. Reporting any pests or diseases will help in understanding their distribution, how they interact together, and how their impact varies from one year to the next. Spotting new and alien pests and diseases is particularly important because we may only have limited information on how widespread they could become and the range of tree species they could affect.
We intend to continue these surveys to give OPAL a sound dataset in order to give the broadest overview of the state of our environment.
If you are interested, please contact us. Alternatively, tree survey packs are available individually for you to survey your own trees in your local vicinity. We’d be more than happy to help get you started.