Today we visited a forest that is also a Christmas tree farm. Yes, we have been visiting the forest all along, but this was a different forest: a managed forest. We have seen forests that have been clear cut and then allowed to grow back in a natural way and forests that have been left alone--or old-growth forests. For instance, yesterday we saw a hemlock forest. Each of these is its own biome.
A managed forest like the one we saw today is one in which some trees are cut down in order to encourage the growth of others. Kevin, the man who owns the forest land, told us that he carefully picks trees that he knows will grow tall and strong, such as spruce. The ones that he grows as Christmas trees are balsam firs, but even those are selected for the best ones. Below, baby Christmas trees grow in a clearing surrounded by managed forest. Kevin said he is going to let this piece of land return to all trees because it is too far into his land. He makes some of his money by having a cut-your-own-tree business at Christmas.
What do you think some effects of that might be?
What does fertilizer do for trees?
Do you think that they have any bad effects?
What about pesticides? Kevin said that having large, healthy trees--his managed forest--around the Christmas tree farm helps protect his trees in a number of ways. One is that birds live in the older spruce trees. What do birds eat? Yes, bugs! So Kevin allows the birds in the forest to help control the bugs. He said that if the bugs are starting to harm the trees, he might release some helpful bugs like ladybugs into the forest to help take care of the bugs that eat trees.
We also put out more small animal traps today, so I am hoping when we go back tomorrow, we will have some little creatures to count. We have moved to a different area, one that is old-growth unmanaged forest and a more open field. Small animals live in small areas and the small differences between lots of places to hide and nuts and grass to eat can lead to very different numbers and types of animals. We learned a math formula that will help us make an estimate of how many animals in total are living in one spot. By the end of the week, I should be able to give you some idea what we found, but the scientists have been collecting this data for 12 years, so what my team is doing is just a tiny piece of the whole project.