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In the wilderness lies the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau

The first forest inventory in the „Land of the Grizzlys“

Tracks. Everywhere there are tracks. Gudrun walks around our camp and shows us the bear tracks made by a mother and her two cubs. Last night, they passed about 30 meters away from our “kitchen”. “Well behaved,” Gudrun calls them, because it doesn’t look like they tried to search for any food in our camp, even though they must have smelled the “Buffet” that would have been available to them. But the safety of her cubs was more important. So now we know, the bears are here, all the time and everywhere, and we are reminded that we are only visitors in their territory. But it is also a territory that we want to protect. That’s why the first thing on our agenda today is a forest inventory. But that is a very wide concept. For us it means that we want to document the biomass of the forest on this piece of land that is to be protected. In order to do that one looks for a good piece of land that is representative for the whole area, and divides it into practically-sized pieces. In our case: Forest areas measuring 25 meters by 25 meters, within which we will count the trees, and measure their diameter and height. With this data, there are programs that can measure the approximate stored biomass. Since we want to learn how much this forest takes on every year, these measurements will be taken at regular intervals and then we can find out how much the biomass increases. We are done after about three hours, and then we take time to look around the rest of the area, because our results are still just numbers, from which no real conclusions can be drawn just yet. But we can say that it is an impressive mixed forest with maple, alder, poplar and Sitka spruce trees, with bushes and shrubs, including raspberries and other berries as well. When we return to the camp in the evening, something occurs to us: the water is still rising. The beautiful sunshine did its work on the glacier again and sends us fresh, cold water. We break down camp and seek even higher ground than we were the night before. The next morning we are relieved to see that everything stayed dry. Only our make-shift hut, to shelter us from sun and rain, needs to be rebuilt, on higher, flood-secure ground. After Gudrun, Charlotte and Niklas went bear- and wolf-searching at 5am (unsuccessfully), we explore another part of the region and find another sand bank on the Little Toba River. Back in Camp we begin to prepare for our second forest inventory, which we will do on the other side of the Toba River, in what will possibly be the next nature sanctuary of Wilderness International. But none of us has set foot on that area yet, so we have no idea what awaits us. You can read about the results and impressions tomorrow on this Wildblog.

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