Dara O Briain gets the lowdown on the OPAL tree health survey

It's not every day that your work gets a mention on a primetime BBC TV show. But last night, the OPAL tree health survey was among the projects covered on Dara O Briain's Science Club.

The programme focused on citizen science, looking at projects around the world harnessing the power of mass participation, such as Californians recording earthquake activity data on their laptops.

One of this week's studio guests was Dr Hilary Geoghegan, a human geographer who specialises in studying enthusiasm. As part of her research, Hilary followed the development of our tree health survey and during the show, she explained how people in the UK can also become scientists' "eyes and ears on the ground" by taking part in OPAL activities.

The programme offered a fascinating overview of the ways that everyone can get involved in science, whether you love trees or want to turn your old webcam into a microscope, and was well worth watching.

The good news for our trees is that evidence suggests large numbers of people do want get involved in monitoring their health.

Research recently published by the Forestry Commission on public attitudes to forestry shows that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed in the UK would be willing to look out for and report tree pests and diseases, and thought everyone should take action to avoid spreading pests and diseases when visiting woodland.

However, the report also revealed that more needs to be done to raise awareness about what biosecurity is, as only a small percentage of respondents indicated that they understood the term.

If you want to understand more about what biosecurity is and how you can play your part, watch this helpful video from the Forestry Commission.

 

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