People across the UK are being encouraged to examine the trees where they live, work or go to school as our seventh survey on tree health opens today.
It will also ask participants to keep their eyes peeled for a range of pests and diseases, particularly those that affect our most loved trees – Oak, Ash and Horse Chestnut.
“Tree Health is one of the most exciting and important surveys OPAL has developed so far,” said OPAL Director Dr Linda Davies, of Imperial College London. “It’s the seventh in our series of nature studies designed for people of all ages and abilities to start exploring and recording local nature.
“And, while learning about local trees and gathering lots of interesting information, local people can also contribute their findings to a national research programme investigating the condition of the nation’s trees and the factors affecting them.”
Any tree can be surveyed and all of the information submitted will help scientists build up a picture of tree health across the UK.
Participants may also spot one of the six Most Unwanted pests and diseases, including Ash dieback and the Emerald Ash Borer, which could spell disaster for our forests if they spread across the UK.
The United Nations Forum on Forests has called on governments around the world to improve sustainable forest management.
The forum recommended a range of actions that should be taken, from data collection to addressing the causes of deforestation.
As its latest session finished on Friday night, the forum also decided to consider setting up a global forest fund.
“In this historic meeting, countries broke new ground and agreed to take actions that demonstrate the need to sustainably manage our forests,” said Jan McAlpine, director of the forum’s secretariat.
If you want to contribute to data collection about trees and forests in the UK, you can sign up to take part in OPAL’s seventh survey on tree health, launching next month.
Photo by Flickr user trekker308, some rights reserved
There is just one month until the launch of OPAL’s seventh survey focusing on the health of our trees.
It will also ask you to keep your eyes peeled for a range of pests and diseases that can threaten the health of some of our native tree species.
As indicated in Defra’s Chalara Management Plan – published last month – this will include Ash Dieback.
There’s still time to register for your survey pack and be among the first to help scientists monitor the health of our trees, forests and woodland.
This week also saw the opening of the tenth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests which aims to promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of forests around the world.
Teachers, educators and those who want to learn more about lowland heathland have just a few weeks left to grab a copy of our free CD of resources.
The curriculum-linked GCSE and A-level teaching resources, developed last year by our OPAL East Midlands team, focus on one of Britain’s rarest and most-threatened habitats.
Lowland heathland is home to a diverse range of unique flora and fauna which can be explored by your pupils, from the churring Nightjar to the venomous adder.
The CD features a total of 10 teaching resources – including classroom and field-based topics – each providing teachers’ notes, student workbooks and ID guides where applicable.
A limited number are still available, but must be claimed by 15 May. Get your free CD now by emailing your name and postal address to opaleastmidlands [at] nottingham [dot] ac [dot] uk
Teachers are being encouraged to support outdoor learning by signing up for the second Empty Classroom Day.
The event is rolling out nationwide this year and schools around the UK can sign up now and pledge to teach pupils outside for one lesson on Friday 5 July 2013.
Organisers aim to give young people the chance to learn in new, more relevant and exciting ways, as well as helping teachers to broaden their knowledge and skills.
If you need inspiration for your outdoor lesson, why not use OPAL's resources for this year’s Empty Classroom Day?
From hunting for invertebrates in the playground for Bugs Count, to studying trees in your grounds for our next survey on tree health, our activities offer a range of ways for pupils to get hands on with nature.
Forests are being celebrated around the world today as the United Nations (UN) holds its first International Day of Forests.
The event aims to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and trees, and comes just days before the next UN Forum on Forests, which takes place in Istanbul, Turkey from 8-19 April.
“By proclaiming the International Day of Forests, the UN has created a new platform to raise awareness about the importance of all types of forest ecosystems to sustainable development,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
International forestry organisations also emphasised the importance of tree research.
“By bringing relevant and reliable scientific information to national, regional and global policymakers, forest research has a positive on-site impact on livelihoods, environment and sustainable development,” said Niels Elers Koch, President of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations.
You too can help with vital tree research in the UK by taking part in OPAL’s seventh survey on tree health, which launches in May and has been developed in collaboration with Forest Research and the Government agency FERA.
To get involved with International Day of Forests, you can share your photos of forests and tree planting initiatives online with the UN to show the world how trees and forests make a difference to the community where you live.
More than 400 people have already signed up for the forthcoming OPAL tree health survey just one week after registration opened.
The survey will give people the chance to learn more about the trees in their local environment, and the pests and diseases that can affect them.
There is still plenty of time to register for a pack for you, your school or your community group.
So sign up today to be among the first to take part when the survey launches this spring.
New keys to more than 50 species of mosses and lichens most commonly found growing on fruit trees have been released today.
The fully-illustrated guides, developed by OPAL East of England in collaboration with the Field Studies Council, cover species local to eastern England, but many are also found throughout the UK.
Orchards are recognised biodiversity hotspots and the guides aim to help orchard owners, amateur naturalists and experts to identify and record the changes in biodiversity in their area.
Lichen diversity was devastated by the pollution of the Industrial Revolution but is now recovering and OPAL scientists are encouraging people to study and record the spread of these organisms.
“There has been a spectacular re-colonisation by lichens,” said OPAL East of England community scientist Helene Coleman. “Some of the lichens involved in this re-colonisation have only recently been described and they are new to science.
"A great deal of useful recording can be performed by amateur lichenologists.”
For a limited time, free printed copies are available for distribution to you, your nature group or your school.
A new feature on our website will show you how your soil and earthworm survey results compare to other sites across the country.
Our live results map now tallies up the number of earthworms you’ve counted and plots them against surveys submitted by other people.
All you have to do is open our results map and find your survey site, either by zooming in or typing the location into the search box.
Then simply click on the spot for your site, and on the “How your site compares” tab that appears.
So was your site one of the 748 places where only one worm was found or was it an earthworm hotspot?
Want to get a better earthworm count and move along the graph? Then keep surveying and help our scientists get a better understanding of these important creatures.
Educators from across the Midlands learnt more about getting pupils into the great outdoors at a free OPAL conference on Saturday.
Escape from the Classroom was hosted by OPAL East Midlands in partnership with the University of Derby and Derby City Council.
Covering topics ranging from making the most of school grounds to using the local environment to teach maths, a range of workshops were held to inspire primary and secondary school teachers.
OPAL Community Scientist Lauren Gough said: “By bringing together teachers, environmental educators and organisations at this conference we hope that lasting partnerships will be formed.
“We anticipate that the skills and experiences gained at the conference will empower our teachers and educators to inspire the next generation of nature lovers.”
More than 30 organisations also exhibited at the event including the National Trust, the RSPB and the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts.
It is the second time that OPAL East Midlands have hosted the free one-day conference.