We've just spent the weekend at the Dundreggan in the Highlands with 'Trees for Life', it's an inspiring place to visit. 'Trees for Life' have planted over half a million trees at Dundreggan since they took over the site 9 years ago - quite an achievement! Each year groups of volunteers stay on site and help in the tree planting initiative - they are always looking for more volunteers, so if you are interested, please do contact them, I took this image just outside the accommodation lodge. We are also considering taking a group to the site either next year or the year after - we have taken student groups there on a number of occasions in the past and believe it will be of value to open this to CREST customers. If you think you might be interested, please 'Contact Us" - if we have enough people wanting to go, we will organise a trip to observe and monitor biodiversity dynamics in the newly forested areas as well as learning identification techniques and ecological method. Sarah PS the first image is from one of our summer trips a couple of years ago, the other 2 are from the weekend..
Though numbers were a bit short compared with last year, we had a successful course at Yarner Wood once again. The participants were enthusiastic and got on with the tasks of the day with 'gusto'! Well done all.
We had 2 days of canopy experience events. Friday 28th July was a private booking and Saturday 29th July was an open to all. Despite the rain showers, spirits were not dampened and everyone had a great time. We had a hammock set up high in a tree, a tensile platform suspended between three trees, and a traverse from a high climb to the ground. Everyone got to have a go with all of these activities, as well as learning how we rope up a tree, use the climbing equipment safely and carry out tasks in the canopy. Vicki, from Sylvana Alta http://www.sylvanaalta.com was the chief instructor, with our Steve on the ground. Many Many thanks go to our helpers too - Jane, Rachael and Marty worked their socks off to help give the participants a fabulous time. If this appeals to you, why not join us next year? Here's a few images to whet your appetite.
We had a team of 7 climbers spend the night in the tree canopy at Yarner Wood, East Dartmoor. This was part of an international effort for The World Land Trust to raise funds to purchase land along the Kinabatangan River in Borneo. This area of rainforest is exceptionally important for wildlife including iconic species such as Orang Utans, Clouded Leopards, Civet Cats, Pygmy elephants and pygmy hippos, plus many monkey species, birds and invertebrates - and not forgetting some important plant species too. This type of conservation is what CREST is continually promoting - we will be visiting this area next year for an expedition to which CREST supporters can join us. Well, this may have a serious and important purpose, but the campout was fun too! 1000's of people from around the world all camped out on the same night to help in the fund-raising effort. Here are some pictures. 1st image left to right: Gemma, Jane, India, Rachael (with the 2XL teeshirt!) Marty, Steve and Kiki - what a team!
It was a baking hot day on Dartmoor for this course yesterday, there was much to see and the group got stuck right in to identifying plants by family despite the energy-sapping heat! As well as plants we got to see same interesting animal wildlife including an adder, a lizard, lots of tadpole - almost ready to transform and some tropical-sized leeches - all in all a good day had by all - plus Ilsington village hall made an excellent venue for the course.
We had a lovely day walking around Slapton drawing plants and their adaptations to the diverse habitats found at the site - from Ancient Woodland to Water Meadow - to Beach - to name but 3 out of around 10 habitats! Everyone developed their skills at plant ID - and all will be along in 2 weeks for the Intermediate Botany course where those skills will be taken another step forward - well done all those who attended.
Today we ran a Grass ID course as a private commission for the Volunteers at Yarner Wood, Natural England. We took some alkaline-loving grasses that we picked up in Kent earlier in the year, some grasses from Charleton Marsh, plus we went up onto Trendlbere Down, Dartmoor today to identify species there - quite a range of grasses! The volunteers, were enthusiastic and made great progress in their ID skills that they can take forward during their internship. They will also all be at the 'Introduction to UK Flora' course that is running this Saturday. Well done lads!
CREST is contributing to 'The Big Canopy Campout' - we'll have a team of climbers up in the trees overnight at Yarner Wood, with the support of Natural England, and we'll be part of a global initiative raising funds for the World Land Trust to purchase land along the Kinabatangan River in Borneo with a long term plan to protect the rainforest. This is particularly relevant to CREST as we will be leading an expedition to Borneo in 2018 which will include a boat trip along a stretch of the river - this is part of a new long-term project assessing and monitoring the health and biodiversity of the world's forests. We have set up a 'Just Giving ' account if you wish to contribute to this important initiative http://www.justgiving.com/CREST-Devon Also if you are interested in joining us next year, the expedition will be from 31st July to 18th August 2018 (start and finish dates may vary by a day as final arrangements are not yet in place) - please register your interest by email at email@example.com or by using the link on our 'Contact Us' page and we will keep you informed of progress - full details will be available soon.
The Woodland Festival organised by 'Moor than Meets the Eye' has been running throughout May starting with a conference (Our Steve contributed to that) and continuing with a range of workshops and other events. CREST contributed on Thursday 18th May with a workshop on 'The Natural History of the Oak'. We talked about the Oak from the bottom up! So the fungal symbionts associated with the tree roots right up to the canopy ecology. We then looked at the characteristics of the 2 native oak species, plus the hybrids in between, then we went on to identify some of the lichen epiphytes associated with oaks and finally we measured some oak trees and assessed their capacity for storing carbon. The day went very well, and the participants enjoyed the activities (the hailstorm notwithstanding!).
Everyone enjoyed the day at Slapton on Saturday. We had an enthusiastic bunch of participants who collected samples from traps we'd set out a few days previously in the woods, then developed identification skills using a range of techniques from 'old fashioned' books and keys, plus up-to-date imaging technology and microscopes.