Tree studies at Courmettes

Lead picking in the woods

Leaf picking in the woods

We have just come back from an extremely busy week up at Les Courmettes. For a number of years A Rocha has been running a program to look at how much carbon is taken out of the atmosphere by trees and where it is stored: trunk, branches, leaves, etc. Although it sounds terribly academic it is of course profoundly important in helping people work out how much carbon dioxide is taken out of the atmosphere by trees and how we can maximise this. It is however an extraordinary time-consuming process, including taking all the leaves off the branches of the sample tree and weighing them. The only solution is manpower.

Measuring one of the trees

Measuring one of the trees

Although Chris wasn’t running the program – that was his colleague Martin – he was responsible for recruiting the manpower and working out the logistics. So after what must be around 200 emails we made five trips to Nice airport last weekend to pick up people, as well as arranging for cars from France, Italy and Holland to actually find Courmettes. In the end we gathered a superb team of nearly 20. To say it was multinational is an understatement: including Chris there were two English people, five Dutch, one Belgian, a Swiss, one Chinese American, one Chinese resident in Holland, one other American, two Italians, three French, two from Ireland, plus Martin who is from Zambia.

A multinational team: from left, 2 Italians, one Chinese, one Swiss, one Belgian and two Dutch

A multinational team: from left, 2 Italians, one Chinese, one Swiss, one Belgian and two Dutch

For those who have eaten Alison's chilli at church lunches, this is what is being prepared, but for 35 people.

For those who have eaten Alison’s chilli at church lunches, this is what is being prepared: for 35 people in meat and vegetarian versions

The essential catering support was provided by Alison and our old and long-suffering friend Morag who came all the way from South Wales to help, as well as Felicity, a long-term Courmettes supporter from the UK. And we are delighted to say that after an extraordinary amount of preparation including endless spreadsheets word documents and checklists it all worked very well. (Mind you if the management of EasyJet happens to be reading this, Chris would like to say that it would really help if your planes arrived approximately on time: It’s a little disheartening to enquire whether a plane has landed yet only to be told it hasn’t even taken off from London.) But it was a superb team and thanks to everybody.

Evening meal

Evening meal

Filming the new vegetable garden

Filming the new vegetable garden

Courmettes of course would not be Courmettes without complicating factors and this week it was the arrival of a television team from France 2, which is apparently something like BBC2. They stayed for a day and a half and somehow Chris found himself leading them around and even being interviewed in front of one of the stars of Courmettes: an oak tree that is at least 1000 and possibly 1200 years old. Fortunately the interview was in English and will presumably be subtitled.

The millennial oak

The millennial oak

Anyway after returning everybody to the airport we are now back at Taradeau where wonder of wonders it has actually rained and is now no more than 24°C (somewhere in the mid-70s F).

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