The class-room training of prospective forestry officers that took place in the evening of January 30 was followed by two on-site demonstrations in the forest located in the Treasure Cay area, across and north of the airport. It was followed by a similar exercise on January 31 in the forest near Spring City and on February 1 again in North Abaco.
Fifteen participants from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Andros, Eleuthera and Abaco, among them forestry officers for the Bahamas National Trust, were shown how to recognize and identify trees suitable for future crop. The trees had to be straight and healthy with no branches.
A consultant from the Netherlands, Arian Sikken, who has been exploring the pine forest of Abaco for the last several months to identify suitable areas verified that the participants had chosen the right trees which were then marked with tape for future reference.
Christopher Russell, Director of Forestry for The Bahamas, was among the group. He explained that the aim was to train people nationally to introduce them to basic forestry management concepts, to teach them terminology and various other aspects of a park warden responsibilities such as how to measure trees’ heights, diameter and volume and to identify sample trees in a basic area, defining volume per hectare. The trainees also have to learn how to use a GPS to find the sample points, such as the nine points identified in a 600hec. area of forest North of Treasure Cay, the previous day.
According to Mr. Sikken, the pine forest around Spring City was not the best for future crop. On the West side of the logging road, very few trees were suitable. They were either warped or very thin. On the East side, however quite a few good trees were marked as suitable for future crop material, but the best trees, said Mr. Sikken, were found in the north.
The next step will be to clear the immediate surroundings of the marked trees to allow them to develop without impediment, by removing the smaller trees next to them.
The tree crown, he explained, must have enough space to develop as its size is proportionate to the size of the trunk. The smaller trees, explained the local Bahamas National Trust Forestry Officer, Mr. Marvin Russel, will be used for minor local industries such as crafts or fencing.
The training was a hands-on exercise; the data recorded during the field trips will be analyzed and the inventory will be kept to determine the value of timber to be used for further concession areas.
Such concessions have already been granted to Lindar Industries that will start logging in the north part of Abaco sometime this year.