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You are here: Home eNewsletter Archives 2007 October 2007 SAEON Ndlovu Node and Southern Cross Wildlife School join hands to monitor tree populations

SAEON Ndlovu Node and Southern Cross Wildlife School join hands to monitor tree populations


Tony Swemmer, manager of the SAEON Ndlovu Node (right) and ecology teacher Mike Cowden (second from right) with other staff of the Southern Cross Wildlife School, plan the location of the tree monitoring plots (Picture © SAEON Ndlovu Node)

The Southern Cross Wildlife School has joined the Ndlovu Node network of collaborators and will be setting up a tree monitoring project on its grounds in the Raptor's View Wildlife Estate at Hoedspruit.

The project will serve as another means of environmental outreach for Ndlovu Node, and will generate useful data on the growth, survival and phenology of common savanna tree species.

Trees will be permanently marked in 10 plots on the grounds, and learners at the school will then "adopt" a number of trees. Each learner will be tasked with measuring the trees each year, and will eventually pass their adopted trees on to younger learners in future years.

Measurements will include tree growth and phenology (i.e. the timing of seasonal growth patterns, such as leaf flushing and flowering). The former will produce valuable data on the growth of trees in the absence of fire, elephant browsing or wood cutting - a rather rare situation in the lowveld.

The phenology measurements will provide insight into the factors that control the length of the growing season in savannas, an important aspect in regulating the flux of carbon dioxide from Africa's savanna. This is a topic that has received little attention in the past, but is currently of much interest to global climate change modellers.

The data gathered will be taken up in SAEON's data base which is being developed to provide a rich store of environmental observation for researchers from all over the continent and abroad.

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