The School for Field Studies (SFS) Rainforest Studies Summer program offers two four-credit courses that may be taken individually or back to back to provide a thorough introduction to biodiversity conservation, and the socioeconomic factors influencing land and resource management in two unique areas.In Summer Session I: Rainforest Management Studies in New Zealand and Australia, students compare and contrast the ecological, geographical, social, economic, and historical factors that have shaped natural resource management in far northern Australia and northern New Zealand.OVERVIEW
Rainforest ecosystems harbor some of the world’s highest levels of biodiversity. The rainforests of Australia and New Zealand host extraordinary remnants of the world’s oldest species of plants and animals. Large areas of northeastern Queensland were once covered in spectacular tropical rainforests, preserving millions of years of evolutionary history; however, over the centuries, logging, farming, and development have destroyed and disrupted rainforest ecosystems and habitats, leaving fragile fragments that are often too small or isolated to sustain some species.Though many of Australia’s tropical forests and species are now protected under World Heritage legislation, they are faced with continual threats due to climate change and invasive species. Similarly, only fragments of northern New Zealand’s ancient forests remain to house endemic fauna and flora. At the same time, these rich forests provide food, medicine, and spiritual value to residents and visitors.STUDENT RESEARCH
Students compare and contrast the ecological, geographical, social, economic, and historical factors that have shaped natural resource management in northeastern Australia and northern New Zealand. These two countries share a similar Gondwanan history; however, European settlement patterns, indigenous histories, and economic development significantly differ between the two countries. In New Zealand, students discover its critically endangered flora and fauna and the impacts that have led to their decline. In Australia, students take their New Zealand experiences and examine similarities and differences in political structure, co-management arrangements, land-use patterns, and biogeography.Learn rainforest research field techniques on unique flora and fauna in Australia, which are transferable to any other forest ecosystem in the world including New Zealand. These skills are vital for those who decide to pursue a career in the environmental sector.Determine ecosystem types and learn field techniques, such as trapping, mapping plots, and spotlightingLearn social science survey techniques and how to quantifiably and qualitatively assess human resource use and how it relates to restoration and conservationAssess density and diversity of flora and fauna in pristine forests and restoration plotsRESEARCH FOCUS/THEMEBiogeographic history and conservation of highly endangered and fragmented rainforest communitiesPutting people into the matrix—developing natural resource management policies that workField techniques for sampling rainforest faunal communities, floral communities, and social and economic variables associated with rainforest useFIELD RESEARCH, LECTURES, AND EXERCISESExamine the influence of fragmentation and other impacts on abiotic and biotic attributes of forest communities in Australia and New ZealandVisit the ancient rainforest refugia at Mossman Gorge and Daintree National ParkExplore the ancient podocarp and Kauri forests of northern New ZealandExamine historic Aboriginal and Maori land-use practices in Australia and New Zealand and experience contemporary indigenous cultureBENEFITS OF TAKING BOTH COURSES
This summer course can be taken individually or in combination with Techniques for Rainforest Research in Australia in Session II.Students participating in both sessions are eligible for a $675 discount.Students earn 8 credits. Earning 8 credits likely will allow students to qualify for federal financial aid, depending on their particular situation.Home school financial aid may be applied toward the programThere are five days off between courses for independent travel. Students will be near great locations, such as the Great Barrier Reef.There are no prerequisitesPossible SFS travel grants may apply for airfareHOUSING
In New Zealand, student accommodations will be at various lodges (included in program costs). The Australia accommodations are eight-person cabins at The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies, in the heart of the Australian rainforest.The Center lies on the edge of the Atherton Tablelands in the heart of the traditional land of the Yidinji people. Protected World Heritage forests and farmland surround the rolling hills covered in tropical foliage. Student cabins are nestled within the rainforest, which comprises the majority of the property’s 153 acres. Sightings of tropical birds, bandicoots, pademelons, musky rat kangaroos, amethystine pythons, and other unique rainforest species are common. The site is alive with the sounds of the rainforest. Students share eight-person cabins with separate shower and bathroom blocks. The main building of the field station houses the classroom, dining area, and a common room.