Sunday, 2 March 2014

A day in the monsoon forest of Bali Barat National Park

Seven years ago the part of the monsoon forest in Bali Barat National Park was devastated by a forest fire that charred everything in its path.  A monsoon forest is characterized by mostly tall deciduous trees, meaning these gentle giants lose their leaves during the dry season, which can be up to 8 months of the year, but flourish once the monsoon rains strike, woody vines and air plants.   The forest truly sparkles when in full bloom, with varied hues of green, happy monkeys crawling over the branches eating to their delight, and birds squawking in the hidden canopies.  It is quite a sight.  Sadly, this beauty is under attack within this region of Bali.  In spots where the canopy is broken by fire or human intervention, and rays of sun are let through, there lies an invader who is stealing from its native neighbours.  Lantana camara is an invasive shrub species that was introduced to Bali to use for yard decoration due to its colourful flower and ability to grow under any condition.  Because of its uncanny ability to establish itself so easily in numerous ecotypes, especially in areas of disturbance, we are now seeing it all over the island.  Here in the monsoon forest of Bali Barat National Park, Lantana has taken over many empty patches of land within and around the forest by out-competing the native species for nutrients and sunlight.  Parts of the once highly diverse forest are now becoming a Lantana only shrub land, and it is happening fast.  Sierra, with Biosphere Foundation, the staff off P.T. Trimbawan Swastama Sejati (a part of Sustainable Management Group) and Dr. Albertu Wawo of LIPI have been devising a remedy for the problem, using  one weakness the plant has, it is inhibited by  shade.  In, 2013, Sierra started a study site within the fire-disturbed land, with three study plots.  At first, measurements were taken of each Lantana plant, in order to compare to this years measurements to gather an idea of how quickly, or large, it can grow in one year.  This data is still being worked on.  This year, after measuring, we removed all the Lantana from the three plots, it was A LOT, and I mean A LOT of Lantana.  Once removed, 1200 native trees of six different species were planted in two of the three cleared plots.  The idea is to plant enough sun-loving, fast-growing trees that will shade out the Lantana, and allow for other shade-loving slow-growing native trees to grow.  Today, the trees look beautiful in their new, native, Lantana-free land.  The forest is beginning to transform into its natural state.  Good work Friends of Menjangan and all those who helped allow the project to happen!

Julian and myself measuring and tagging the new trees.

Sierra, Pak Albertus, and crew after a long, hot day in the forest.

A cleared plot with the freshly planted trees.  You can see how much Lantana was present due to the amount of exposed soil.

The saplings in their plastic bags, ready to be planted in the soil with room to breathe!

Carefully removing the trees from their transportation, Hati Hati!

More little trees.

Sierra preparing for a day of measuring and reinforcing the trees. 

Material used to help tie the trees to bamboo sticks so they grow up and not out.

This is the infamous, Trengulli.  It was very small when we planted it, and now within one month has grown to a substantial size.  Beautiful tree.

Sierra measuring and inspecting.
Pak Albertus excited about a day of planting, and spending time in the forest.  He knows so many different plant species, it was fun to learn from him!

Maybe about 25 trees hauled into the forest on the back of a bike.

Myself, and the crew!

1 comment:

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