Blog posts

The important balance in your fieldwork  

Tomonari Matsuo 22nd August 2022

Due to the pandemic, travelling abroad has been strictly prohibited, which prevented us to travel to the field to initiate the fieldwork activities. Unlike the fieldwork in Mexico, we did not yet have a skilled team in the local community for advancing the fieldwork in 2020, we postponed starting the field activities until a PANTROP team member would be able to travel again. In 2021, the travel restriction was slightly loosened which enabled us to travel to Ghana to finally get the fieldwork resumed with a great collaboration with Dr. Lucy Amissah, senior researcher in forestry research institute of Ghana (CSIR-FORIG). Fieldwork has started with small numbers of people from Wageningen university, CSIR-FORIG, and the local community. Over time, people in the local community gradually recognized us and we succeeded hiring more people working with us. At the end of the fieldwork campaign in 2021, we had a large team of over 20 people for PANTROP fieldwork in Ghana.


It was interesting to me that my role in the fieldwork has greatly changed over time. With a small number of people in the initial stage of the fieldwork, I spent more time in the forests measuring trees crazily from the morning to evening. However, as number of people has grown, I spent more time on the management of the teams. I have realized how important the team management is for conducting efficient and productive fieldwork as more unexpected things could happen with more numbers of people (teams). However, at the same time I started to miss measuring trees crazily all day long in the forests. This experience taught me that management of the teams is essential for the success of the project, but also reminded me my initial motivation (passion) on tropical forest research. With this lesson, when I returned to Ghana with 4 MSc students from Wageningen university for the fieldwork in 2022, I tried to balance myself; I again spent most of the time managing the teams but also spared decent amount of time doing the measurement by myself in the tropical forests. This resulted in the great advance on the projects and also gave me the great pleasure of working in tropical forests (and Malaria).