Each Site’s Research Aims
Are you interested in joining one of our expeditions to help with conservation research? At Opwall we have published 640 peer-reviewed papers and identified 72 new species to science. We take research very seriously, and below is a list of all of the locations that we conduct research in, as well as the current research aims for each site. We hope to see you there this summer!
The Krka Valley where our terrestrial site is located has become an increasingly popular destination for tourists. Our work in the region is focused on monitoring a protected area through baseline data collection to assess the efficacy of sustainable development in protecting flora and fauna. This means we are helping local communities to manage ecotourism in a sustainable way.
The marine site at Silba Island looks at sustainable management of resources. We work with a Croatian NGO to gather baseline data, and also monitor biodiversity to assess the current fishing quotas. This means we can determine if there is need for greater conservation protection in the area.
The terrestrial site for Honduras is situated in Cusuco cloud forest, which is quite a physically demanding place to research but very worth it! Here we monitor the impact of deforestation on the endemic species that live there. We also look at carbon credits as a way of funding small businesses which are related to the protection of Cusuco and ensure effective patrolling of the area.
There are two marine sites in Honduras – Utila and Tela. Both are very focused on developing new research techniques and trialing new equipment in order to improve coral reef monitoring. Here we are also monitoring the success of a newly formed Marine Protected Area.
Indonesia is the site at which Opwall started where there is plenty of incredible wildlife to see, including endemic species including anoa and booted macaques! The research at the terrestrial site is focused on monitoring biodiversity and carbon stocks, where the World Bank has funded a conservation programme. This means there are financial benefits for the local communities who are committed to conservation.
The marine site on Hoga Island is focused on the monitoring and management of reefs, where we have a long-standing reef monitoring programme. Due to our work this site has more published research than any other site in the coral triangle.
Madagascar is famous for it’s incredible wildlife and wealth of endemic species, and you won’t be disappointed! Our terrestrial site is located at Mahamavo, where the focus is on community-lead sustainability. Here we monitor biodiversity and structure of forests and wetlands that are managed by local communities. This allows us to determine whether community-managed areas are a viable alternative to National Parks.
Our marine site is at Nosy Be, where we are collecting baseline data on the reefs including fish communities and coral cover, which is then used for long-term monitoring to assess the impact of tourism.
Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in Mexico, and is the location of our terrestrial research site. Here we are monitoring the impact of climate change on the wildlife that lives there, especially the effects of drought. We are also helping indigenous communities to adapt to a changing climate. This is an incredible site for seeing ethno-biodiversity, through observing the impact that the Mayans had on the ecosystems and vice versa.
The marine site in Mexico is based in Akumal, which thanks to our research is now a Marine Protected Area. We are monitoring this zone to determine the benefits of it being protected, as well as investigating the impact of snorkel tours on the health and behaviour of sea turtles.
At our terrestrial sites in South Africa our research is focused on monitoring large game and its impact on vegetation. Our data is then used to calculate carrying capacities for the large species, so that reserves can be managed sustainably. This enables us to help mitigate human-wildlife conflict.
Our marine site is located at Sodwana Bay, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Here you can learn to dive or complete a reef ecology course, where you will learn marine survey skills.
Peru (school groups only)
Our research site in Peru is based from a boat on the Amazon River. The main aim of researching here is to collect baseline data which contributes to biodiversity conservation in the area. Opwall have a particular focus on working with the local communities here, which includes sustainable hunting and fishing practices. We are also monitoring the recovery of some endangered species such as jaguar and giant river otters. The impact of climate change on the vulnerable flooded forests of this area is also being studied to determine the impacts on wildlife and people.
Bay Islands (school groups only)
We have two marine sites in the Bay Islands. Utila has largely unmanaged reefs as well as a booming tourism industry, in comparison with our other site on Roatan, where the reefs are managed by the Roatan Marine Parks Authority. Our research at both sites enables us to compare the health of the two areas of the reef, and to improve our understanding of how these ecosystems are adapting to changes in tourism and climate.