There are over 70 delegates from Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy, Czech Republic, Sweden, Scotland, Canada, Finland, Austria, Hungary, Japan, USA, France, Norway and South Africa. Most arrived Sunday night and a few more came in the morning. Very exciting!
After breakfast we said good-bye to Dave and Cheryl, who had the day to explore the monastery before catching a FEVE train to Bilbao that evening. It was so great having their help and moral support.
Off we went with the delegates in a big bus to Palencia, with Julio, our host and the key conference organizer, giving a guided tour along the way. Naturally, he made note of various tree species we were seeing, but he also told us a lot about the landscape, history and culture. We felt very lucky to be having such an enriched experience.
The opening ceremony at University of Valladolid began with a traditional dance and music performance. Mike Wingfield, a member of the IUFRO Scientific Committee from South Africa, gave a keynote presentation on the conference theme, “Global Change and Tree Diseases: New Threats and New Strategies” which included his observations about the effects of globalization – not just climate change – on forests around the world.
When we chatted with Mike after, we learned that he has studied the mountain pine beetle for over 30 years, and started learning about the many other organisms that live on and inside the beetles. There’s a whole world there at the micro level.
We had a very nice lunch at the University, then a tour of downtown Palencia: a forestry exhibit, the old cathedral, and a beautiful pedestrian zone.
At a university building downtown we all introduced ourselves and listened to the first of many forest pathology presentations of the week. The conference book with all the abstracts for papers being presented at the conference has Claire’s painting “Disturbance” on the cover, and the colour fidelity is excellent.
Then we went over to the ornate Palencia government building. There we were were given an official welcome and tour with explanations of the painted ceilings, stained glass atrium, portrait room, history, etc. Claire presented a framed “Community Forest” to a representative of the government of Palencia on behalf of the District of Wells and they were very pleased to receive it. The building has a collection of 500 works of art, plus a current sculpture exhibition in the front entrance, so it’s in a good home!