What is Operation Wallacea? - Operation Wallacea

What is Operation Wallacea?

Operation Wallacea (Opwall) is a conservation research organisation that is funded by, and relies on, teams of student volunteers who join expeditions for the opportunity to work on real-world research programs alongside academic researchers.

Who is involved with our research?

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.


Research outputs

The expeditions produce a large number of publications in peer-reviewed journals each year – over 300 so far – almost all of which had data collected by teams of volunteers. It has also led to the discovery of 39 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.


You can find our published papers in our research library.


Independent funding – enabling long-term research

Most science programs 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:

Joining for Experience as a Research Assistant

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.

Joining to Complete a Dissertation / Final Year 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.

  • Peru

Joining as a School Group

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.

Fundraising support

Most of our students are not able to pay for the expedition fully. We recommend a mixture of looking to personal finance and savings, working in your holiday and fundraising.

With planning and assistance from Opwall’s fundraising team most volunteers should be able to raise a large portion of funds needed to join. We are able to give volunteers full support and advice for many fundraising events, activities and projects including:

  • Assistance with accessing hundreds of charities and applying for grant funding.
  • How to run sponsored activities.
  • Details of tried and tested fundraising events and how to make the most from them.

Be sure to check out our fundraising advice page for more details.


If you have a keen interest in conservation and the environment, and want to increase that knowledge while helping out real-world research programs, let us know!

You can find more information on each of our projects by browsing this website, giving us a call, or by submitting an expression of interest form.

Contact us:

US Office: +1 (973) 920-0487
Canada Office: +1 (905) 231-2095
UK & Rest of World: +44 1790 763194

Our UK office handles enquiries outside of North America.

Find all our office contact details here.