The umbrella OPAL project aims to get up to 40,000 people outdoors participating in surveys every spring and autumn until 2012, investigating five different areas: soil quality, air quality, water quality, biodiversity and climate in England.
OPAL project manager John Tweddle said: "The purpose of the project is to encourage people to get back to nature, increase our understanding of the UK environment and support the natural history societies."
The survey being carried out this spring is investigating soil quality and earthworm distribution.
"It's the sort of project we can get the public interested in, as it involves digging around in the soil," Tweddle said.
Supporting literature is being sent out to schools, community groups and individuals.
Statistics gathered will be analysed by scientists at OPAL's national centres, including the museum and Imperial College London.