Operation Wallacea (Opwall) field surveys are divided into biodiversity research expeditions, biodiversity and climate change field training courses and wildlife and culture experiences.
These expeditions are clusters of scientists and field biologists running a series wildlife research projects at overseas sites and publishing their results. The surveys are designed when the results across the different surveys are taken together to answer conservation questions and identify any long-term biodiversity changes occurring. The expeditions are funded by, and rely on, teams of student volunteers who join expeditions for the opportunity to work on real-world research programmes alongside academic researchers.
Most science programmes abroad that deliver research outcomes are funded on a short-term basis by grants with typically tightly restricted aims. Long-term projects covering large bio-geographical scales that can incorporate more than one ecosystem are rare. By adopting a volunteer funded model, Opwall does not suffer from those restrictions and can draw upon researchers from a wide range of different disciplines and academic institutions, and create long-term research projects.
The presence of so many publishing researchers and academics also separate Opwall from other volunteer organisations, allowing a truly research orientated project. You can also find out more about peoples’ experiences and our projects at the Opwall Blog.
Learn how you can join one of our expeditions by clicking here.
These are short (1 – 2 week) training courses held in exciting locations within the participants’ home country (eg the Knepp Wildlands – UK’s premier rewilding site, Queensland’s rainforest and Barrier Reef in Australia etc). There are courses aimed at high school students wanting to gain field survey and data analysis skills before entering University and also aimed at university students to teach aimed at training skills for graduates to enter the job market in wildlife conservation and climate change careers.
These wildlife and cultural experiences are trips that are run in some of the facilities created or used by Opwall but outside the times the research teams are on site. The trips are run by Friends of Wallacea (a sister organisation to Opwall) and utilise expertise of the local guides that assist the science teams when Opwall is on site. The emphasis is on seeing the spectacular wildlife of these sites and living amongst the often remote local communities. The purpose is to provide year round income for these communities rather than relying wholly on the short intensive research seasons run by Opwall. If you want a unique holiday in a remote location seeing wildlife species most others don’t see then have a look at these options on Amazonian river boats, a rewilding site in the Galapagos, bears and wolves in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains in Romania or remote Amerindian communities on the savannah of Guyana in South America.
Large teams of ecologists, scientists, academics and postgraduate researchers who are specialists in various aspects of biodiversity or social and economic studies are concentrated at the target study sites. This gives volunteers the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects alongside field specialists.
The expeditions produce a large number of publications in peer-reviewed journals each year – nearly 600 so far – almost all of which had data collected by teams of volunteers. It has also led to the discovery of 37 new species that have been formally described. Independent funding enables large temporal and spatial biodiversity and socio-economic datasets to be produced and provide information to help with organising effective conservation management programmes.
Most science programmes that deliver research outcomes are funded on a short-term basis by grants with typically tightly restricted aims. Long-term projects covering large bio-geographical scales that can incorporate more than one ecosystem are rare. By adopting a volunteer funded model, Opwall does not suffer from those restrictions and can draw upon researchers from a wide range of different disciplines and academic institutions, and create long-term research projects.
Those researchers and academics also separate Opwall from other volunteer organisations, allowing a truly research orientated project. You can also find out more about peoples experiences and our projects at the Opwall Blog.
Ways to join an Opwall project
An Operation Wallacea expedition allows you the chance to participate in active field research. By working with a range of academic teams and scientists you are afforded the opportunity to enhance your career potential, to see if field work is something you wish to pursue and to try something completely different, all while being part of a legacy-leaving project.
You can join an expedition to collect data for your own project, using this towards your degree or in some cases masters theses or even to allow you the opportunity to work in a particular field or study area.
Groups of sixth form/high school students in their last two years before going on to university or college can join Opwall expeditions as long as they are accompanied by a teacher. The school groups are required to collect data for at least part of their expedition which helps with the research objectives and publications for that site. During their 2 week expeditions the school groups also have the opportunity to work alongside a range of different field scientists and learn about the survey techniques and species encountered. At each of the sites a lecture series is run to provide background information about the habitats and species, which are tied into many of the concepts learned in pre-university biology, geography and environmental science courses.