Crowd-sourced data collection of forest regeneration growth

I am proud to announce the launch of a crowd-sourcing data collection campaign! The wide spread diffusion of smartphone and tablets, and the cheap fish-eye lenses available for such devices, can be a powerful complement to traditional research techniques. My aim is to involve foresters practitioners or simple forest visitors from all over the UK in a data collection related to the growth of conifer tree regeneration as function of the canopy cover. Please join the project and I will send you a free fish-eye lens for smartphone! Check more project details at



IUFRO Spruce 2015 Conference (2)

Hello everyone. Last August I attended the IUFRO conference on “Ecology, silviculture and management of spruce species in mixed forests” organized in Alberta. It was a very interesting event, with a high quality of participants: from silviculture to GIS and Remote sensing experts, from forest modelers to policy makers. I am proud to have made my contribution too, presenting the following poster:

poster_Bianchi A4

I am glad that my research is indeed progressing. The “take home” message from the poster is: Sitka spruce seedlings growth can be modelled as a function of light measured with hemispherical pictures. Data from very different forests (a larch forest with Sitka spruce regeneration and a pure spruce plantation) were consistent.

We considered the growth ratio (the ratio between the observed shoot leader growth and the potential growth of the same tree growing in full light) instead of the absolute leader growth: the results show that we can move forward with this approach!

Now it’s time to collect more data! I’ll keep you posted.

HabitApp – a quick tool for canopy cover estimations

Thanks to a fellow researcher, I recently discovered this app:

  • What does it do?
  • “HabitApp is designed for aiding habitat assessment in the field, providing a simple way to measure the leaf coverage provided by the surrounding tree canopy.”

  • Did I find it reliable?
  • Yes.
  • Did I find it useful for research purposes?
  • Yes.
  • Did I find it comparable with professional software/instruments to evaluate canopy characteristics?
  • In a sort of way. More of this to come soon!

My advice is to download it and use it in your forest assessments! More feedback to the developers can help to improve it.

The tree dome

Hello everyone. After a nice Christmas break, I eventually started some action! Together with Gruffud, another forestry student from Bangor University, we are surveying some plots around Clocaenog forest, one of the few sites where CCF is being tested in the UK (read more on: The forest comprises many Sitka spruce stands where different intensity of thinning and various types of shelterwood are being implemented, all focused to obtain the best natural regeneration. The Natural Resources Wales staff managing the site is very keen to help research activities. Thanks!

Gruff is particularly interested in studying the relationship between light regime and regeneration undercover, so we are taking some hemispherical pictures in each plot. We will later investigate the correlations (if any!) between stand characteristics, canopy transmittance and regeneration characteristics.

© Gruffudd Rhys-Sambrook

© Gruffudd Rhys-Sambrook

We’ll keep you updated!!

Modelling forest growth in a changing environment

On Friday the 5th of December Simon Lloyd, Director of the Royal Forestry Society, gave a talk at the Bangor Forestry Students Association about resilience and new paradigms for British woodlands.

The key message was that accellerated tree diseases, unmanaged pests, climate change, and new economic scenarios are already affecting British forestry, forcing woodland managers to change their management decisions. A shift from traditional even-aged monospecific coniferous plantations was advocated, as well as the idea that natural local broadleaves are a simple panacea for all the problems.

Continuous Forest Cover approaches, use of alternative minor species, accepting to change landscapes were some of the suggestions Simon Lloyd provided. He admitted that there is not enough knowledge about new some of the new approaches and more data must be collected. As an example is where owners of novel tree species can share their experience.

As a forest modeller, the question I have to ask myself is: how versatile should be a forest model nowadays? Should I prepare one that is able to take into consideration possible climate change scenarios? Or with the option to incorporate easily more species and situations, and to change parameters for the ones already considered? Models based on analysis of the statistical relationships of data collected now might lose validity soon under the drivers of change described by Simon Lloyd.