Blog for 2009-07-04

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Today was our first full day in Deramakot. Some of us woke up early to try to find orangutans. Unfortunately, all we were able to find were leeches. After a good breakfast, we all left for our morning lecture. While we were waiting, the American students celebrated America's independence day by singing some patriotic songs and reminiscing about the fireworks, barbecues, and family that we were missing. Our lecture was given by Peter Lagan, who talked about the sustainable forestry operation here at Deramakot. Afterward, we got to go into the forest and learn more about the different strategies of logging while in the first area we've come to that actually had lots of leeches. We found lots of caterpillars, orangutan nests, and cordyceps on an ant. We broke for lunch and headed off on our own to enjoy the forest here.

Many of us headed into the eco trail to work on our focal taxon. Once the rain started, many people headed back inside to further work on our taxon or catch up on sleep. That night, we had a lecture from Rhett on monitoring biodiversity in forests and the problems that it faces. We learned that it is difficult to survey what differences disturbances do to populations and that many times the wrong organisms are surveyed to get an accurate picture of the state of the forest. Immediately afterward, we had our debate on land use in Sabah. We split up into two sides: oil palm vs. sustainable logging. There were great arguments from both sides. The oil palm side argued that it was much better financially for Sabah and would provide more jobs and funds. We also argued that biodiversity would not be significantly affected since we could do sustainable oil palm and use quick profits to help fund biodiversity. The sustainable logging side was arguing that even though they would take longer to get profits, they would be a good long term investment since it is preserving biodiversity as well as eventually making money. While both sides had good arguments, Charles Marshall decided that sustainable logging was the winner for the next 5 years. We all really enjoyed the opportunity to discuss these complicated issues, especially since we had lectures from both sides and got to see the operations. It was also really interesting to see how complicated the issue is, and ultimately it would probably be best to have a mixture of both.

After dinner, we had a short Malay lesson for those of us who were able to stay awake. We learned a lot more words, including numbers. I really hope that we can do our bus numbers in Malay sometime soon!