Counting and Sorting Trees

How hard can it be?  I’m an intelligent sort of girl,  motivated to find out more about our land in a bid to help it return to a healthier state, to do my bit for the environment.  How hard can it be to count and sort (classify) trees?  The answer my friends is VERY…..

So I set out with my pen, paper and camera to snap some shots, count and classify the trees in what we have called our ‘home paddock’, the few acres that make up our building envelope and where we will eventually put our R&D centre, house and cabins.  As such this is the part of our land with the least trees, it is virtually cleared at the top which is why I decided to start there – start with the easy land parcel and tackle the woods and creak frontage once I’ve mastered the art of surveying.

Fox Hill Hollow

The picture above shows our home paddock so that you know what I’m talking about 🙂

In a nutshell this is what I have learned so far:

  • It is easier to count trees than it is to classify them.
  • That said it is easy to forget which trees you have already counted when you are as terrible at map drawing as I am!
  • Classifying something as a ‘Gum Tree’ in Australia is about as descriptive as saying ‘look, it’s a dog’.  There are LOTS of gum trees, lots more than I could have ever imagined.
  • Narrowing it down to ‘Grey Gum’ is still not helpful.
  • Trying to get pictures of the seeds of very tall trees with your I phone is not easy and on that note, trying to capture them with our purpose bought Canon EOS super machine doesn’t work either when the battery is dead 😦
  • I hadn’t appreciated the importance of a good leaf shot until I came to try to classify them.
  • I probably need professional help OR need to go back to school.

All in all I counted 51 trees and identified that we probably have three to four types of tree growing in this space although I’m not confident I know what any of these four species are!  In any case, it was still a great day and I did learn something, that when you really look at a tree and I mean REALLY look, you notice so many interesting things.  I caught myself standing outside of myself as I thought, witnessing how my brain first approached our ‘tree problem’ with the mindset that we have two types of trees – Gum trees and Pine trees and that’s it.  I sat with that thought for a moment and wondered if we do that on purpose, simplify things down to bare essentials?  If we do it to make us feel better, allow us to move on, prevent us from being paralysed by the over-whelming truth that is we know next to NOTHING about ANYTHING to do with these trees?  Maybe our brain is trying to save us from that embarrassment and make us feel good about what we do know – I felt good for a moment until I realised what I can of worms I’d just opened.

Lucky for me I live in a world of making sense of the unknown. As a consultant chemist I am paid good money for my detective skills, my ability to get to the heart of a problem and solve it creatively from the ground up.  Maybe I can use those skills here, use my naive perspective to gain new insights into my own backyard ecosystem?  However,  my professional life has also taught me that it is well worth paying to get an expert in to get the basics right then build from that rather than go off on the wrong foot and as such that is what we will do.

I plan to continue to try to make sense of the pictures I took, the features that I did spot and the patterns that emerged as it is a really good learning curve but I also plan to get someone a little more knowledgable to come and help me make sense of it all as that seems like the most sensible course of action.

So here are some of my tree pics for those that like that sort of thing, only another few hundred to get acquainted with and this time I’ll charge up my proper camera for those all-important leaf-selfies :/

Trees of fox hill hollow

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