17.10.2011 - 20.10.2011 24 °C
The next couple of days we head back out into the forest plots. We first get to climb up to pick up leaf debris out of the sample catchers in our first plot. Again scrambling around is necessary on the steep slopes to get around. We have dropped T off the roster as she is a bit crook. It takes us all morning to do one plot. When we head down, Jiang Shi Fu heads up to do the dreaded plot 12 afterwards. We are told it is too much for us, but he is done and back down in the time it takes us to wander back to the lodge. Back out to plots 8 and 9 to continue on leaf litter.
We get to head way up the mountain to plot 12 and do wood debris surveys. The steepness of the plot, T being crook and LH unsteady on the slope, this is much slower work than some of the earlier plots. We are slipping, sliding and scrambling all over the place. T is no better, so she is helped down by Mr Jiang, L and Ad after lunch in the field. We keep on working through, and make our weary way down the mountain at the end, helping LH down.
The next day we do not let T up and out - she is not given the option, despite her objections. Different work today we are surveying standing dead wood. This is slow work, sorting through every trunk and checking if it is still living, even though this is one of the ‘flatter’ plots. For the last time we head down the mountain, leading LH and her sore leg down the steep bits. After lunch we leave LH and T looking after each other whilst we do lab work.
During these days we have plenty of things going on, with LH giving Chinese lessons, going for dawn walks, sitting around talking, drinking beer and sharing our experiences. We get to watch more climate change documentaries, including No Impact Man, Home and Wake Up, Freak Out. These all reinforce the need for action to start now, and be as big as possible.
The second last night, we head out to Mr Jiang’s for dinner. He is one of the rangers working with the research team and has been essential in helping us in the field and the lab. When we head out to his place for dinner, it is a lesson in low impact living. All of the food we eat has been grown by the family in their garden, the only stuff bought in was the fish and the pork. And it was the best food I had eaten in China, great flavour and texture. And Mr Jiang had the big bottle of myrtle plums soaking in wine. He served this up and it was very smooth, sweet and flavoursome and I lapped it up. We ate dinner with Mr Jiang, his wife and granddaughter, a great night.
On the last day T is much better, and we all spend the morning in the lab, before walking around and saying goodbye to the support staff, students and researchers who had been our guides over the last fortnight. We have the summing up of our fortnight and run down on the results of the past five years of research – the big takeaway is that Primary forests are nearly twice as productive as plantations, and support a much greater range of flora and flora. And we are the best ever lab team! Go US!!
We spend the remainder of the afternoon sharing around all our photos and doing the final packing of our belongings and loot. Dr Pei takes us to the village where I pick up the army uniform that most of the locals use out in the field. He also picks up a big cake for Anna’s birthday, more of that later...
At the final dinner we give out Amcor gifts to the all the lovely folks here who have made this fortnight a very special time. After this we head over to the HSBC common room to do a (kinda) haka for every one there, as taught by T, and to sing happy birthday to Anna. The cake is a massive confection with loads of cream, fruit, icing flowers and topped off with a lotus flower candle. The celebrations all go very well until the cream from the cake starts to fly around the room... The Amcor contingent beat a strategic retreat to our own celebration. There may have been one or two drinks, because Angus went red again, but not too many as Ren, R, L and I are left discussing the work at the CRCC until past midnight.