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Posts Tagged ‘Inventory

Planning and Action

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The weeks fly by.  On Monday I outlined my activities for the five weeks that I will be in Vietnam.  These activities fell within two overarching projects: the website for the project and the google sponsored REDD work.

The website is very simple, necessarily, so that the content management system (a front-end for website management) can be maintained after I am gone by someone who has less experience, less time, with websites.  With the overall architecture of the site completed all I need now is data to populate the fields.  Using Google Docs (appropriately) I’ve asked all staff members to write about themselves and their particular project components.  Then, next week, I will meet with everyone individually to edit and confirm what they have written, collect useful documents and take a nice profile picture.  We should then have a completed site, now for permission to put it online…


The areas in green are known plantations but elsewhere we expect forest according to 2008 data. This image is from 2009 and shows the degree of deforestation that has happened in one year.

REDD-wise the main focus is getting the forest inventory of Thon 4 underway.  The inventory of Thon 6 was largely successful but there was the problem that the maps we used overestimated the area of forest and so when I scattered random points on the map as sites for measurement, a small proportion fell outside of the forest area.  Good for the mapping, bad for the forest inventory.  So, this time around I am updating the forest map carefully and not underestimating the villagers’ capacity to cut down trees.  Preliminary investigation reveals that in a single year large parts of the forest have been cut down.  Making a reliable map is more difficult because the deforestation often occurs as pockets within the forest, rather than just working in around the edges.  Walk into the forest for a day, start up the chainsaw and cut down everything around you.  Simple.

In other news, getting up at early here is a delight, the mornings are beautiful and from my hotel window I can watch the mist between the mountains melt away with the sun creeping overhead.  The weather is getting difficult in the office because both of the overhead fans have exploded but long Vietnamese lunches skip the worst of it.

Written by calumdavey

November 11, 2009 at 1:45 am

Posted in Dak Nong, Vietnam

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Moving forward

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This week’s been fraught with problems for the forestry component of the project so it has been difficult to put together a comprehensive plan about where we are going with REDD until today.

We’ll be doing another forest inventory of a region very near to the last one.  So, first of all, I will try to update the forest map as best I can with satellite images and field visits so that when we place the measurement points we don’t end up in the middle of coffee plantations.  Like last time.  I’m then going to put together a short questionnaire for the M’Nong villagers who help with the inventory, with questions about them and their lives.  Those data, along with some nice profile shots, will be a great addition to the map data once it is online; it will show that we really got to know the local people and put faces to the issues in the area.  These will, of course, be incorporated into Google Earth as balloons so they’ll pop up in context as people are using the site.

Getting a hold of good satellite imagery is turning out to be a bit of a problem but at this planning stage it might be enough to use LANDSAT images although a) the resolution is a bit weak and b) the recent images have these annoying blank lines through them because of a fault on the satellite itself in 2003.  We’ll make do, of course, but will be begging the people from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency who are here next week to lend us theirs…

Written by calumdavey

November 6, 2009 at 11:29 am

Out in the woods

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Out in the woods there’s only the rustle of the trees, the crunching of sticks and the screeching of the cicadas to break the silence of our single-file team of 5 farmers and a technician as we wind between the trees quarrying the coordinates in our GPS.CBD_0006

At least most of the time.  Occasionally we were knee deep in swamp and very often stopped by the undergrowth, forced to hack our way through while a surprisingly large number of spiky things dragged at our clothes and skin. But those things make it sound like it was not fun, and it was a lot of fun indeed.

The measuring went very well, it is simple once everyone knows their place in the drill.  Christian noted that the M’Nong farmers were much more sensitive to the different tree species than the outsiders and so by the second day we were all supposed  to be recording the infinity of M’Nong tree names.  This did not slow us down at all as the farmers seemed to know the plants inside out: only once did they stop to sniff and chew every part of one plant that they did not to recognize and even differentiating between the flavor of the skin of the stalk and its leaves.


Occasionally, the friction as we passed through became too much and we were forced to skirt the edges of what was normally an area where uncontrolled deforestation had left a thick undergrowth.  It was also depressingly common to find that places marked as forest on the map are now coffee, sweet potato or cassava plantations.  We will have to wait and see what the new map looks like and the picture of deforestation that we’re looking at.

Written by calumdavey

November 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm

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Getting out into the sunshine…

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Like my little Honda, things can be slow when you’re battling up-hill.  But we’re getting somewhere at least and the only frustration is that I have not been available as an active player yet.

The forest inventories are coming going and Christian spent much of his weekend training and re-training so that we are ready to get out and measure the trees this week.  The plan is to directly measure


1% of the forest and I have drawn up a set of random points within the area that we can quickly locate, demarcate and measure up.  Some doubted that the villagers could read numbers well enough to record the diameters of the trees accurately, so Christian drew a note out of his pocket and asked, “how much is this?” “50,000 Dong” rang out the chorus: case proven.  The villagers are more capable than some people hasten to think.

With steep slopes and the ravages of deforestation leaving a thick undergrowth, measuring the forest is not entirely straight forward.  With 1% measured we have 126 locations and 4 teams which means, for all practical purposes, we need to get measurements down to 4-5 per day.  That’s some fast work.

Written by calumdavey

October 26, 2009 at 3:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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