Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tree Survey - Seeing what our Forest is really made of

GVI has started conducting 2 new surveys in Shimoni Forest, and the first was called “Tree Survey”. Which is all well and good, but how exactly does somebody go about surveying trees - and why?

Big trees are unquestionably among the most important aspects of any forest, providing both food and habitat, either directly or indirectly, to a vast number of animal species. Yet they’re often also the most vulnerable aspect as well - they’re much sought-after for charcoal and timber, and obviously they take many years to regenerate once taken down. Additionally, some tree species are more desirable than others for making building materials or fuel, and that means those species are disappearing faster than others, altering the ecological balance of the forest.

- Mel, Sarah and Tim hard at work-

And one more note - when Julie Anderson studied Black and White Colobus in the area, she identified 14 species of tree that provide for 75% of Colobus feeding activity. By identifying which species are present along our forest transects (and in what abundance), and by tracking this data over time, we can get a much better idea of the composition of our forest, the patterns of human disturbance that threaten it, and how this could impact our Colobus population. To that end, we’re also measuring the trees themselves, in terms of trunk diameter and the height and volume of the canopy, both to see whether these factors correlate with Colobus presence, and as a method for analyzing the carbon sequestration potential of East African coastal forests - something that has never been looked at before.