All posts from

September 2007

treeblog is back... with excuses

No, treeblog isn't dead. And I haven't forgotten about it. In fact, an extraordinary combination of circumstances have lead to treeblog being either offline or without an update for almost a month! A most shocking turn of events, I'm sure you'll agree, and please accept my apologies.

You see, I left sunny Sheffield for the Italian Alps on the 15th of August for a university field trip. So while I was enjoying myself in the forests of the Dolomites (and Venice) for a week and a half, treeblog was without an update. Not that I could have posted anything had I been home, seeing as how treeblog was probably offline for the time I was away! That brings me on to Problem Number Two: insufficient bandwidth. Since its inception, treeblog has been building in popularity. Yet an image-heavy blog combined with a meagre bandwidth allowance from my web host spells disaster. And thus when treeblog reached its bandwidth limit partway through the last couple of months, the host pulled the plug and the rest is history.

However, the bandwidth allowance is reset at the beginning of each month. So why no post on the 1st? Well, by that time, I was on another field trip. One that I only returned from on Saturday. And what with me being extrordinarily busy for the moment, coupled with living in a flat with no internet... that goes some way to explaining the lack of posts.

Until now.

I am back in the Scottish capital, and I am bringing treeblog back. I have sort of integrated Flickr with this blog, and that should solve the bandwidth problems for the time being. But enough excuses; this digression ends here.

I have so much to tell you, and so many pictures for your eyes to feast upon. The next few posts should be good, and best of all, they will be with you shortly!

Posted in Miscellany

treeblog seedling update (Day 154)

Today is actually Day 166 for treeblog Set A, so this seedling update is 12 days late. Day 154 was Wednesday the 29th of August and the very next day, (with a tear in my eye) I left the treeblog seedlings behind and travelled up to Scotland. I will not see them again in person until nearly Christmas; until then, my father will act as caretaker.

So... grey alder Number 4 has grown tremendously! I was very impressed when I returned from Italy to find such a fine level of growth. It is now the largest of all the seedlings by quite a margin. Unfortunately, the other 3 alders aren't doing quite so well.

Grey alder Number 4 - you beauty!

For the Scots pines, I have nothing but praise! Old Alpha is looking vital and vigorous, and is recovering well from its lean... and Gamma is coming on in leaps and bounds!

Scots pine Alpha.

Scots pine Gamma.

The majority of the cider gums are also doing well and growing faster than ever. In my opinion, they are growing upwards too quickly without sending out any lateral growth, and I am worried that they may end up rather spindly. But! The sickly looking cider gums are sending out plenty of lateral growth! And as of Day 154, all 15 of the cider gums were still alive and kicking.

Cider gum Number 5 - an example of a fast grower.

Cider gum Number 3 - a sickly one (note the lateral branching).

Posted in The treeblog trees

Field trip to the Italian Alps (Part 1)

The field trip forms a major part of one of my courses (Research Practice in Forest Ecology) for my Honours year at the University of Edinburgh, and it ran from the 15th to the 26th of August. The purpose of the trip was two-fold; we learned about forestry in the Paneveggio Forest and its surrounds, and we also spent time in the field collecting data for a paper we are to write. Eight of us (seven students and one lecturer) flew out to Treviso (near Venice), and from there we drove up into the Dolomites, part of the Alps. We stayed for most of the trip in a big house in San Martino di Castrozza used by foresters, but the last 3 nights we spent in a couple of log cabins partway up a mountainside.

The foresters’ house where we lived for most of the trip. The sign next to the door read:


The discerning Italian forester's vehicle of choice: a Fiat Panda 4x4.

The log cabins where we spent a few nights. The cabin on the left is the cookhouse and the bunkhouse is on the right. The cabins are part of a malga, a seasonal farm typical to this part of the world. In the past, cattle would have been driven here for summer from the winter pastures in the valleys below.

The night sky as seen from the bunkhouse on the 24th of August. The silhouettes probably belong to Norway spruce (Picea abies). Fifteen second exposure.

We spent one day planning and four days collecting raw data as a group, on which we each have to write an individual paper. The rough question that we were asking was "how do capercaillie chose their breeding sites?" The capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) is a large woodland grouse, with a range encompassing much of Northern Europe. It is also a native of Scotland, although it became extinct in 1785, was later successfully reintroduced... but is now facing extinction for a second time. The capercaillie is found in the Italian Dolomites (where we stayed), but it is less abundant than in the northern Alps.

We created a list of characteristics that could be used to quantify both known brood sites (marked and shown to us by local foresters) and random sites in the local area. We collected this raw data without mishap, but have yet to perform any statistical analysis to determine whether or not there are any significant differences in some or all characteristics between brood and non-brood sites.

I loved collecting the data. We spent all day up a mountain, in the forest. The weather was mostly fine, and it was good fun clambering up and down the ridiculously steep mountainsides. It was my duty to collect data on stand species composition, which meant roaming around each sample plot, counting the large trees and determining their species. The commonest types were Norway spruce, European larch (Larix decidua), European silver fir (Abies alba) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica). Dwarf pine (Pinus mugo) was also common, but this is a shrub rather than a tree. Much less common and a lot smaller were rowan (Sorbus acuparia) and goat willow (Salix caprea). Downy birch (Betula pubescens) and grey alder (Alnus incana) were present but very rare.

Ashley Peace: wannabe forester.

Posted in Holidays and field trips

Field trip to the Italian Alps (Part 2)

rockslide in the Dolomites

A rockslide in the beautiful Dolomites. (16th August)

dwarf pine (pinus mugo)

Dwarf pine (Pinus mugo). Might be making an appearance in the treeblog nursery next year... (16th August)

seasoning resonance wood

‘Resonance wood’ from the Paneveggio Forest, stored to season. The wood has special acoustical properties, making it desirable for the production of musical instruments (mainly violins). Of the 6000 cubic metres of wood felled in the Forest each year, only 0.5% is selected as resonance wood. The wood has very narrow growth rings, coming from trees grown in an optimal and unchanging mountain climate. Other qualities include low specific weight, good elasticity, dimensional stability, and a good ratio of resistance to weight. (18th August)

extracted timber

Timber extracted from the Paneveggio Forest. (18th August)

Norway spruce needles suffering from a fungal infection

Norway spruce (Picea abies) needles suffering from a fungal infection. (18th August)

larch in the mist

Lovely, lovely larch (Larix decidua) in the mist. (21st August)

air, rock, wood, water

I was blown away by this view. So stunning, almost surreal! The lake is called Lago di Calaita (Lake Calaita) but I don't know the name of the mountain. (24th August)

stone building and forest

I took this at a goat farm. The farmer told an inspirational tale about how it had taken him and his wife 10 years to get the farm going properly in the face of fierce resistance from the local population and powers-that-be who believed the smell of the farm would impact negatively on tourism. We watched the goats being milked, then bought a couple of bottles and drank it while it was still warm from the udder. The farm didn't even have much of a smell! (24th August)

spider on bark

A biggie! (25th August)

Posted in Holidays and field trips

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