Big Tree Measure 2023, it takes a community!

The essence of community is a shared story, a positive thread that creates something larger than each of us on our own. This October, The Carbon Community has felt the strength of that connection as 120 citizen scientists came together for our Big Tree Measure 2023.  

“What is the Big Tree Measure?”, a friend asked. “Are you measuring big trees?” Actually, we are measuring a big number of trees, 6,400 to be exact, and they are growing! After their third growing season in the field some of the trees are now over four metres high.  

The Big Tree Measure is our flagship community science event, where volunteers get involved in our carbon study, contributing directly to environmental research. This unique field trial looks at carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere in two types of forests - native broadleaf and conifer. The study is evaluating the impact of enhanced rock weathering and soil microbiome restoration on the acceleration of tree growth, mineral weathering and carbon sequestration.  

There are 25,600 trees involved in the study, of which 6,400 are individually barcoded and measured annually.  

Working in pairs, volunteers take three measurements for each tree – height to tip, diameter at 1.3 metres (diameter at breast height) and the diameter at the base of the tree. This year in addition to measuring the trees we took accurate locations for each tree using geolocation equipment. Information is captured electronically and uploaded to the cloud enabling volunteers to see what they have achieved as we celebrate at the barn at the end of each day.

All of this is possible because of the power of community, individuals who come together to learn new techniques and work together to make a difference. This year we have been joined by local neighbours, students, organisations and committed citizens who have made the journey to Glandwr Forest, our site in Llandovery, Wales.

Through sunshine and plenty of rain, each of you has brought energy, enthusiasm and a tremendous amount of effort. Altogether there were 160 person days of volunteer effort and together you smashed it! All 6,400 trees in our carbon study were measured plus an additional 600 trees in our dose control study which looks at varying levels of basalt addition. Congratulations to all!  

What happens next? The data you have collected will make a big difference to environmental science and will now go to the researchers working on the project to be combined with their work on ecosystem carbon dynamics including soil carbon pathways, nutrient cycling, microbiome effects, and UAV drone evaluation.  

It's really the combination of things you need, researchers and volunteer effort. Together, that gives us something that isn't replicated, to our knowledge, anywhere else. With an event of this magnitude there are many, many people to thank.  

  • Thank you to our volunteer supervisors – Paul, Mike, Liz, Tanya and Steve – for all your work to train the teams and keep the equipment running smoothly.
  • Thank you to Sonia our site manager from Tilhill Forestry, for her endless optimism and in particular for keeping us going on the final day.
  • Thank you to everyone involved in the kitchen – Isis, Jane, Ric – and of course to La Patisserie and The Bear in Llandovery, ensuring that everyone had such tasty lunches and home-cooked baking!

And thank you to EVERYONE who joined us from around the corner and further afield.

Thanks to you, we are The Carbon Community.