August 26, 2019 3:46 pm 1 Comment
Hello dear readers,
Alas, this shall be my last blog for the summer as my time with Al-Pac has come to an end. It has been a great summer and I am very thankful for all the great experiences I have had in the past couple months. It has been wonderful to get to know my team as well as the other summer students and learn about the forest industry hands on.
Stop the presses, I have ground breaking news for everybody! I CAUGHT A FISH!! Time to cross another thing off my summer goal list. My team lead, Elston, took me out fishing one night on his boat after work. We were lucky enough to catch 5 fish in total. It’s nice to see the fish I’ve heard so much about in person finally. It was such a wonderful experience and I am thankful to learn something about a hobby I have never tried before. Even though I find the feeling of bones super gross, I made sure to hold and pose with our catches with my fingers deep in the gills. Shockingly, my shoulder hurt from reeling in the fish the next day, but I may have found a new future hobby once I am a little more settled into my life.
My final project for the summer has wrapped up and it went well. During the project, I helped run a scoping study into the regeneration of seismic lines across the Al-Pac FMA. As many of you probably know, seismic lines are long linear features crisscrossing the landscape of Alberta and have been created to explore for underground oil and gas resources. Seismic lines are important because they can cause negative impacts on the biota of the forest they go through. An important question our scoping study aimed to investigate was whether these lines are returning to their natural state on their own or staying visible and altered. As part of this study, we sampled and compared different seismic lines and types of silvicultural treatments on the landscape. We collected data on the seismic lines and the adjacent cutblocks to see how everything is regenerating.
One of the best parts of science is the fieldwork and the actual data collection. This fieldwork was fun and challenging. Seismic lines can sometimes function as the highways of the forest for natural resource workers and animals alike. In our case, some of the seismic lines we wished to study had disappeared into the cutblock (which is the goal), but can be difficult to sample. On one of our field days, there was a 4 kilometer walk in and walk out due to a wetland being right in the way of our ATVs. To top it off, we were walking during a storm. To say I was exhausted at the end of the day would be an understatement. Not to be that person who studied abroad one time and talks about it forever, but I have another Norwegian phrase that fits the situation perfectly. It goes like this ‘Ut på tur aldri sur’ and means ‘Out on tour never sour’. The gist of this phrase means out on the trail never in a bad mood and I think that fits really well with this particularly wet and long field day. While we were experiencing the travails of bad conditions and long days. there was still a part of myself that was enjoying the work. I enjoy having the opportunity to be outside in the wilderness doing something meaningful. A bad field day is usually better than a regular office day.
Besides that particularly bad day, we had a productive week of field work that involved an a very industrious beaver. Access to one of our sample sites was allegedly roadside, but little did we know that a beaver had another plan for us. We were driving down a forestry road and were about 8.4 km from the site in the early afternoon when, low and behold, there was a beaver dam built on our only road. This situation just draws my mind to how field work is like war. The best laid plans do not survive the first encounter on the battlefield or in our case the beaver dam. Our little group scrambled and found alternative work for the rest of the day to meet our objectives.
A very interesting and eventful end to my time doing fieldwork with Al-Pac this summer! I am excited to see what the results of the scoping study are and if more research will be needed to fill in the gaps with seismic line restoration in Alberta.
So this is the end of my time with Al-Pac, but I am excited to announce my future plans once this summer has come to an end. I will be moving to Austria to pursue an MSc in Mountain Forestry at the Universität für Bodenkultur Wien as part of the TRANSFOR-M program. TRANSFOR-M allows a student to receive two graduate degrees (one in Europe and one in Canada) in two years. I applied to this program months ago and finally have been accepted (Hurra)! In my first year, I will be studying in Vienna, Austria and return to finish my studies at the University of Alberta. It won’t be my first time in Vienna, but I hope to learn new things and take good photos. I am actually one of the first people to go to Austria through TRANSFOR-M, but other places like Wales, Italy, Germany, and Finland have been options for years. I am at once a trendsetter and guinea pig. I think it is a really excellent plan to internationalize my knowledge and experience and hopefully bring back some of that to my future employers in Canada. As we know, forests aren’t just a Canadian resource and forestry is an active discipline around the world. We should be trying to all learn from each other and bring in the best possible practices wherever we are.
Before I officially leave from Al-Pac and head to Austria, I will be joining my amazing Science and Certification team to go floating on the Athabasca river for a team building event. Fingers crossed I don’t fall into the water too often and embarrass myself. I am not an expert in balance as anybody who has seen my walk through the bush can attest.
I would like to thank Al-Pac once again for one of the best summer experiences of my life (so far) and a great opportunity to learn and grow in my field and professionally. There is nothing quite feeling your face light up with joy as you describe the work you do every day to your friends, family, and even to you dear readers on the Internet. I would also like to thank FPAC for allowing me to share my experiences with a wider audience who may not know so much about forestry or Al-Pac and maybe teach a bit of Norwegian vocab along the way this summer.
If you are interested in seeing my future adventures, feel free to follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kald_vin or Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/kaldvin/. I would consider starting a blog called Austrian Adventures, but that domain has been taken for sure. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed following my adventures at Al-Pac.