I've just got back from five weeks fieldwork in Malaysian Borneo. It was a successful trip and I got to see some of the worlds tallest trees - which are pretty amazing! This is particularly exciting for me because my work is all about the how trees grow so tall (from a mechanical point of view).
Danum Valley is a well established field centre near (via 72km dirt track) the town of Lahad Datu. There's herbarium, a restaurant and even a floodlit badminton court - which seems to be an essential part of life for the locals. I arrived late in the evening after a pretty exciting drive down the long dirt track in a shiny new 4x4. Unfortunately, my work requires me to carry a lot of equipment around with me and I had a few days just unpacking and sorting out big piles of tangled wires. Once it was all sorted, me and Azlin - my local research assistant - carried the wires and data loggers out into the forest to set up. This involves attaching small sensors to trees and climbing the biggest trees in the plot to attach wind sensors. We got all of this done in just over two weeks and left the equipment running.
Now that I am back in Oxford, Azlin is looking after the equipment for me. Every two weeks the data needs to be downloaded and the batteries changed - this means a 4km walk into the forest carrying five heavy batteries. The plan is to leave the equipment running until March 2017, when I will head back over to Danum and pack up. This will hopefully result in six months data on the local wind speeds and the movement of the trees. Using this data I will be able to test whether my model of wind damage works in the rain forest as well as it does in UK forests. I will also be able to better understand how the trees in Borneo come to be so tall!