A trip to Sasha Forest Reserve

in steemstem •  5 months ago 

My blog has been a bit silent over the past few weeks because of several personal and research-related offline engagements. I have been busy working as part of a team designing a proposal for a couple of research. Hence, I will be writing a bit more in the coming weeks as we begin the fieldwork aspect of the research.

The Research Site

  For the information of those that are reading my blog for the first time, I am a Botanist whose area of focus is plant ecology. As plant ecologists, we focus on studying the interaction between the plant and the environment. The interaction could be between plant and plant, plant and other living organisms that are not plants and plant's interaction with the abiotic or non-living component of the environment.

In the process of designing the research proposal, we found the need to visit the proposed research site for a reconnaissance survey. The research site, whose name is Sasha forest reserve is located in Ile-Ife, Osun-state, Southwestern Nigeria. The last time I visited the site was during my Masters of Science research about 10 years ago. During that period, I carried out the soil seed bank study of some of the physiognomies within the forest.

The journey to the site took about two hours from the city of Ile-Ife. It was a smooth drive at first but the later portion of the road that leads to the core of the forest is as rough as any road trip can be. As the driver, I felt like I was in some Grand Prix competition in the suburb of Senegal. Unfortunately, I did not really have the opportunity to take pictures until I disengaged myself from driving when we got to the core of the forest.

We got to the site rather late because one of the team members had to join us along the way. He was coming from another city and we had to wait for him at a rendezvous about one and a half hours from the research site. 

The Pinus Plantation

Previous survey of the forest reserve identified five different physiognomies within it. These include the Pinus plantation, the Gmelina plantation, the cocoa plantation, the taungya farming system area, and the regrowth forest area.

We drove straight to the Pinus plantation where we decided to take a tour, established study plots and took some samples relating to our proposed research. Even though the main aim of visiting the forest was for a reconnaissance survey, we decided to use a single stone to kill two birds.

The Pinus plantation has changed a lot in terms of the distribution of plant species as well as the general structure of the plantation itself. The dominance of the plantation by Pinus carribea species has reduced drastically and is actually being threatened by the population of another woody species in the genus Trichilia (we could not identify the species on the field). Also, several relics of dead Pinus carribea were seen standing and the forest is far from being a close canopy forest that was observed ten years ago. What could have happened?

The first part of our research requires the collection of soil samples, surface litterfall sample, wood core samples as well as identification of woody species and the herbaceous cover of the selected plots. The soil samples were collected using a soil auger, surface litterfalls were collected within a 1 m by 1 m quadrat while wood core samples were collected by using a corer to drill through each of the woody species on the research plot. The girth at breast height (GBH) of the woody species was also taken.

The wood core used in drilling through woods to take core samples.

I took more shots of the plantation.

And then.....a friend of mine that came all the way from South Africa

I hope to continue with this write up as the fieldwork and the research progresses.

Till then........steem on!

All images were taken using iPhone 6s.

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