on to Chhukha!
Hi again. I am picking up my travels through Bhutan with a short stop in the Chhukha area. We were traveling from Thimphu to Gedu to begin a few days of field work in the cool temperate broadleaf forests of southern Bhutan - http://g.co/maps/7mdgd
The travel took a long time - several hours. Google underestimates travel time. But, we hit a traffic jam at one pinch point. The road was being re-surfaced in a narrow area and was shut down for about two hours. Luckily, we arrived about 1 hour into the stoppage.
The main road on the opposite side of the valley from the pinch-point traffic jam. Do you see the tractor trailer?
We stopped for lunch north of Chhukha and soon after started noticing older looking forest with a rough canopy surface. It was time to get out of the car and see what was shaking in these Bhutanese forests!
Emergent trees and a rough canopy surface.
I needed to stay close my hosts for this portion of the trip. The combination of the diversity of the forest, similarity in leaves and bark, and my general unfamiliarity of the species made the forest look quite homogeneous at first. Differences between the leaves and bark were so subtle. After a few minutes and having some memories of Sichuan forests come back, I could start to pick out individual species. What was most impressive in this portion of the forest were the large Castanopsis
. Most of what I saw were Castanopsis hystrix
a large Castanopsis
with Drs. Purna and Kinley for scale.
I became more fascinated by the Lithocarpus
because their ring structure is more promising for tree ring purposes. So, during this short visit, I apparently mostly took pictures of these trees.
looking up into a Castanopsis
To leave this forest, we exited through the road worker's village. It gave us the first hand reality of the lives of people making the twisty and treacherous roads of Bhutan as it continues to develop.
exiting the road worker's village.
While there was an isolated village across the valley from this forest, the opposing side of the valley was pure, relatively untouched forest. My hosts repeatedly called it old-growth. I repeatedly wished I could simply fly over the valley to explore that forest. It looked to be in a rather unbroken state with all kinds of wildness. This thought was partially supported a few weeks ago when it was announced that a sighting of a giant panda was made in this area http://www.kuenselonline.com/2011/?p=25866
This wasn't the rarest animal whose track I might have crossed. But, that will have to wait for another post. For now, pictures of the unbroken forest with a village carved out of one pice of it.
'Unbroken' Valley Village
the forest above the Valley Village
close up of old-growth forest - gap dynamics!
The broad, complex, unbroken old-growth forest across the valley.