Brownfield Survey

What are brownfield sites?

Brownfields are pieces of land that have been changed by human activity but where that activity has now stopped. Some are found in towns and cities, such as abandoned factory sites or railway sidings, but some are found outside urban areas, including former waste disposal sites, disused quarries and mines and their associated spoil heaps (piles of waste rock removed during mining).

Why are they valuable for wildlife?

After humans have left, many of these sites have been taken over by nature and are now fantastic places for wildlife. Ex-industrial sites may seem like unlikely wildlife havens, but in fact they can be extremely valuable, particularly for plants and insects. This is because they often support uncommon habitats or unusual combinations of habitats created by the industrial activities that took place there in the past.

Why should I take part?

This survey will help to locate valuable brownfield sites and assess their importance to wildlife. We advise you to visit your site as part of a group or with a friend, and not alone. You may also find it useful to find an expert or a group leader who can help you to identify some of the key features of ecological interest in your site. We would be happy to put you in touch with local individuals or groups who could help you – please contact OPAL York if this would help you. It is important that your group should read the health and safety issues for these sites, which can be found here.

How to take part

  • Step 1 – Download and print the documents in English or in Welsh (coming soon), ideally in colour.
  • Step 2 – Use the guidance for group leaders in the booklet to choose a suitable area and start surveying!
  • Step 3 – Tell us what you find. Your can do this via email, post, or by using our simple online form.

Enter your results online

Once you've completed the survey, simply submit your results:

Problems entering your results online?

Send your results to:

OPAL, Centre for Environmental Policy,
Imperial College,
South Kensington,
London SW7 2AZ.

Downloads – what you need to get involved

Survey pack

  • Brownfield Survey Booklet (PDF, 1.1MB)
    Survey background and instructions.If you are leading a group, you can find a document here which provides advice on how to use the survey with inexperienced people.
  • Recording Sheet (PDF, 1.6MB)
    Individual answer sheets for your group.

By downloading this survey you agree to the terms and conditions for the OPAL Brownfield Survey

View the results

Bugs Count results map

  • Brownfield survey results map – coming soon