Hello again! Somehow I only have a few weeks (10 workdays) left of my summer position at Mercer, and my next blog is long overdue!
Today I’ll be writing and sharing pictures of some of what I’ve learned recently. Yesterday, I had the chance to join an audit of establishment surveys in one of our cutblocks. Establishment surveys are done to measure the regeneration success of trees on the block 4 to 8 years after it has been harvested. On most of MPRs blocks we are looking for suckering trembling aspen and planted white spruce to repopulate the blocks. The surveyors visit many locations in the block, following a grid system, and take plots where they check for the presence and height of deciduous and coniferous trees. They mark the center of their plot with a stick and a ribbon, and also ribbon the tree that they sampled for height. During the audit we visited many of these plots to confirm the results of the survey.
With dry weather conditions in the area, we not only have to keep a close eye out for bears in the field, but also for wasps and hornets at our feet. I nearly kicked this nest and its residents as I walked by. I definitely looked where I stepped more carefully for the rest of the day...
An example of a challenge a surveyor may face, is distinguishing between young black and white spruce. It may come down to looking for the smallest hairs that grow on the end of the black spruce branches but are absent from white spruce, as was expertly demonstrated by the auditor Julia yesterday. This little guy was a rare black spruce found in the block. We also see it has slightly shorter needles than are expected from a white spruce tree.
While my supervisor and the auditor walked ahead, I often hung back to take pictures and check out anything interesting I spotted.
The image below shows how the centre of the plots are marked, with a stick and an orange ribbon. If you look closely you can see that a curious creature has been munching on the ribbon (we found many like this). Any guesses on who might do that?
Although establishment surveys may not make the most interesting blog topic to everyone, I loved being able to learn first-hand about how they are done, making them seem much less abstract than they are when dealing with survey information in the office. Plus, any day that involves learning and being out in the field makes for a fun day!
Thank you for reading!