A Travellerspoint blog

First days in Gutianshan

Starting our Earthwatch expedition


Breakfast, looks surprisingly like dinner, but with meat dishes replaced by meat buns and sui mai. Dr Pei the field director then takes us for a walk to the waterfall a few kilometres up the road. As we head up we are shown the different trees, birds and insects around the valley. With the river running down the side it is a very cool and moist to support lots of life. We see mantises, frogs, spiders, crabs, lizards and can hear birds. The waterfall has a drop of around 15 metres and is very picturesque so we spend plenty of time photographing each other in front of it.
the best of friends

the best of friends

the serenity...

the serenity...

We head back down to the common room for a briefing on the project with Dr Ren who explains the design of the experiment, what sort of data is required to support the hypothesis and the length of time the project will have to run to draw a conclusion. The project looks at the rates of carbon dioxide generation and absorption from all the different mechanisms in the forest, through trees, fungi, animals, insects and harvesting. This will lead to the development of a model which will help predict the carbon take up of forests and the effect of human activities.
Lunch is on the same lines as breakfast and dinner, and is a chance to fuel up before we head out. We are going up to the first plot we are measuring is close to the lodge, so we are there quickly. Once we are there, the plot is not too easy to get around as the ground is slippery because of all the leaves and as we head up, because of the slope which in L & T’s plot is nearly vertical. We are sampling fallen wood debris, taking small samples that go back to the lab to measure annual litter fall and rates of decay.
As we have started late, we don’t get the plot completed in an afternoon. We will have to come back in the morning.
So it is back to the lodge for a big dinner which is welcome after all the clambering about. We are all pretty tired so we are back to bed after a short time.
In the morning we are back to Plot 5 to finish it off. We have a lot of clambering around the bush to do, across streams, and up rocks, wherever the sample lines go we have to follow. I have to say that our work would not be possible without the help of Mr Jiang, who helps us spot with access, tools and all the hardest stuff.
Lunch al fresco

Lunch al fresco

We have a packed lunch to eat out in the field, so it is fried rice and yoghourt drink for lunch today. We get back into it and have it all finished by about 2. It is too early to stop for the day so we go straight to the lab and get a quick lesson in sorting fallen leaf litter which has been sampled by other groups. The samples get broken down into leaf species, bark, twigs, fruits, flowers, nuts and insect poo which are then weighed to estimate the rate of decay in the forest. It is very detailed given there are more than 120 samples taken each week to complete the picture. We also today saw an instrument that measures the rate of soil respiration. There are again over 120 of these, which are tested every two hours in a 24 hour period (right through the night) each plot being done once a month.
Back at the lodge, L and I get some washing done, and it does its trick. We put it up that night and by morning there has been a thunderstorm pass through and a big dump soaking everything. We spin it dry and then hang it up in the room.
We can’t get out because of the rain, so it is back to the lab to do more sorting. Today we are helped by Mr Li and Mr Li. We are getting the hang of the species identification a bit, so the process has sped up since yesterday. In the afternoon, Dr Pei gives us a run down on the science of climate change, and the science is very detailed and complex. But there are some very clear conclusions: the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is much higher now than at any time in the last 650,000 years – and as carbon dioxide levels rise, the earth’s average temperature rises. This rise will negatively affect the areas where 80% of the earth’s population lives with more droughts, floods and higher pest infestations.
This is backed up after dinner when we see ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, the Al Gore movie. This is certainly not good news, but reinforces that we have to do something.

Posted by lostagain 04:24 Archived in China

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