PhD student Suzanne Stas brings us the latest update from Vietnam, where she will be researching carbon storage and sequestration in a partnership between World Land Trust (WLT) and University of Leeds.
The university risk assessments have been filled out, field equipment has been bought, work permits received and research plans have been agreed – I had arrived in Vietnam for my first six months of data collection in Khe Nuoc Trong forest.
Since starting my PhD half a year ago, I have been working towards this fieldwork. This included a short visit to our project area last November, developing our research questions and methods and preparing the fieldwork.
During this first fieldwork period, we will gather data that enable us to better understand the logging intensities and carbon storage and its distribution within the forest.
It has been quite an operation to gather all of the necessary field equipment. Most technical equipment had to be been ordered from the United States. As it can be hard to release such materials from customs in Vietnam, I decided to send them home and bring them to Vietnam myself.
This means that besides my personal backpack, I am travelling with a suitcase of over 35 kilogrammes of field equipment, including:
- 4,000 numbered aluminium tags to tag the trees in our plots
- 4 diameter tapes, compasses, clinometers and measure tapes to lay-out plots and measure diameters of trees
- 2 height meters to measure heights of trees
- 1 GPS to locate ourselves in the forest
- 1 satellite phone for emergencies, to send your GPS-coordinates and call for help via satellites (there is no phone signal in the forest)
- … lots of other stuff
A new experience
I have previously conducted similar fieldwork in the tropics, but Khe Nuoc Trong feels like a totally new experience: a new country, a new forest and a new field team. Luckily, two experienced field staff from WLT partner organization Viet Nature Conservation Centre will be joining me in the field, together with a botanist, two local people and a cook/campkeeper.
After providing training to my field staff, we will set out next week for our first three week camping trip to measure hundreds of trees.
Greetings from Dong Hoi!