As part of two outdoors site visits, the Forest Stewardship Program lent everyone in the class a good set of basic forester tools to later use on our own land. Already packed into pockets of a fluorescent orange safety vest, the following tools were loaned out:
- Logger’s/diameter tape: Different than a regular measuring tape, this included a barb/nail on the tape’s free end that could be hooked into tree bark as the tape was pulled away for distance measurements, and the opposite side of the tape (from the regular distance measurement scale) included a special scale that allowed you to wrap the tape around a tree and directly read off a pre-calculated diameter measurement.
- Clinometer: This sighting device showed upward and downward inclination angles in both degrees and a percentage value. The percentage could be directly multiplied against the horizontal distance from the base of the tree, and the result was the tree’s height.
- Compass: Calibrated to account for declination, and it included a sighting mirror.
- Increment borer: This spiffy collapsible device included a self-threading corer tube on a turn handle and a core remover rod, all for taking small 1/8 inch horizontal radius core samples of tree trunks for the purpose of counting rings and determining tree age.
We were instructed in how to use all of these devices, and applied them at properties owned by two couples in the class. The instructors led us through a tree survey/sampling exercise, determining trees per acre (TPA) and average DBH (Diameter at Breast Height, 4.5 feet from the ground). We evaluated many aspects of each property, including its history, current health, tree competition, variety of trees in relation to other trees and microclimates and soil types, recommendations for new plantings, protection of seedlings from foraging wildlife, protecting trees from windthrow and sunscald, optimal harvesting timelines, balancing timber for market conditions, understory diversification, and more.