Working hard and bison hunting

Today we met Olaf at 8am and he drove us to Bison World (Wisent Welt). There’s a car park, a cafe and a natural play park there at the entrance to the bison enclosure. We met the two interns working in the natural play park.  Sophie and Jakob are three weeks into their year-long internship. They have both just finished school and are getting enthusiastically stuck into the work here. Today they built a wood shed – and it looks very nice too!

Interns building a wood shed

Sophie and Jakob building a wood shed

Wood shed

Wood shed

Under Olaf’s instructions, we helped move logs around, stacking wet ones to dry and dry ones in the wood shed. Then we all set to work building a wooden xylophone for the natural play park. It turned out half well, the longer logs making nice sounds, whilst the shorter ones were more like ‘donk’.

First attempt at a wooden xylophone

First attempt at a wooden xylophone

In the afternoon, Sophie and Jakob took us out in the pickup to look for the wild bison! We didn’t manage to find them, but we had a nice walk in the area and nice chats. There is such dense forest over such a large area, I think our chances were slim!

Looking really hard for the bison

Looking really hard for the bison

We learned a lot about the forestry here today.  The trees that are planted are mostly spruce trees, although there are some areas planted with beech.  None of the wood here is of particularly high quality, and most is sold for firewood or wood chips.  The spruce trees grow fast and make the most money (it’s called the Bread Tree) whilst the beeches grow very slowly.  Some of the beeches that look quite small are actually 150 years old!  The poor soil and elevation are to blame for that.  But the area was historically beech forest with other deciduous species too, so some areas of beech plantation are protected – they can be cut down as long as the area is replanted with beech.

On our walk, we saw where the bison had eaten away at the beech bark, which they love!  The foresters get quite upset by the damage because the trees are so old and they weren’t due to be harvested for some time, which means that their children’s or grandchildren’s inheritance is effectively being damaged.  They get compensated for the damage (the value of which is judged by an independent party), and they can then sell the timber, but they still feel bad about the whole thing.

Some damages are quite small, but others look pretty bad.

Bison damage marked for valuation

Minor bison damage marked for valuation

At the end of the day, we got dropped off back at our tent.  We were pretty tired and cooked ourselves dinner before showering and having a beer before bed. Hmm.

Tomorrow we’re in for an early start but we will definitely see the bison because we’re doing a tour of the enclosure!

-Anna

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