Leech socks and a GPS: essential equipment for a field trip to Khe Nuoc Trong

 
Khe Nuoc Trong forest.

Suzanne Stas is researching carbon storage and sequestration in Khe Nuoc Trong forest in Vietnam for a PhD funded by World Land Trust (WLT). She sent this progress report.

“Are you doing a PhD in tropical forest ecology in Leeds?” People often ask me this with questioning faces. That is because I am studying at the University of Leeds, but my field site is in Vietnam.

Leaving the north of England behind, in November 2015 I went on a two week field trip to Vietnam with my supervisor Dominick Spracklen. There we met with Roger Wilson, WLT’s Senior Conservationist, and Natalie Singleton, WLT’s Assistant Programmes Officer. The aim of the trip was to meet local partners and organisations, to visit the field site and to understand the logistics for my future fieldwork.

Khe Nuoc Trong

My research takes place in Khe Nuoc Trong forest in Quang Binh Province. The forest is protected for the important watershed services it provides, but it is threatened by illegal logging and poaching, which jeopardises the forest and its valuable ecosystem services.

WLT is using the principles of REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, including the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks), which creates a monetary value for the carbon stored within trees and vegetation and used as an incentive to protect forests. WLT’s carbon offsetting programme gives individuals or companies that want to address their carbon footprint the chance to provide funds for forest conservation by purchasing carbon ’credits’.

“We need a better understanding of the amount of carbon stored within forests and how this is altered when forests are logged.”
Suzanne Stas

But, in order for this to happen, we need a better understanding of the amount of carbon stored within forests and how this is altered when forests are logged. During my PhD, I will study the impacts of forest degradation and recovery on the carbon storage and sequestration in Khe Nuoc Trong forest.

During the first few days of the field trip, we met people from several environmental research institutes, NGOs and a local university. This helped us to get a better understanding of the forestry and carbon-related work that has already been done in this region.

Mangroves in Guatemala.

The team slept in hammocks at the camp in the forest. © Suzanne Stas.

Trekking into the forest

Geared up with leech socks and a GPS, we then set out on a three-day trip into the forest. As it was the end of the rainy season, the water levels were quite high and we had to cross the river many times. After a five hour hike we reached our camp site: a spot uphill where we built a basic camp, hung our hammocks and took a shower in the river.

The next day we further explored the forest to see where the logging takes place. We assessed the general state of the forest and looked at possible sites for our sample plots.

The following day we hiked back to the village and took the night train to Hanoi. The trip provided us all the necessary information to plan my research and fieldwork for 2016.

More information

Khe Nuoc Trong Forest project officially launches in Vietnam »

More about WLT’s Carbon Balanced programme »

 

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