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  • Locations: Atherton Tablelands, Australia
  • Program Terms: Fall Semester, Spring Semester
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: The School for Field Studies (SFS) 
  • Restrictions: Augsburg applicants only
  • Dates / Deadlines
Program Description:

AUSTRALIA SEMESTER: RAINFOREST TO REEF


PROGRAM DETAILS

  • Terms: Fall, Spring
  • Credits: 16 semester-hour credits
  • Prerequisites: One semester of college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies/science; 18 years of age
  • Application Deadline: Rolling admissions. Early applications encouraged
  • Financial Aid: All accepted students can apply for need-based scholarships, grants, and loans


OVERVIEW

Immerse yourself in the rich biodiversity of the rainforest and learn about ecological resilience in the face of climate change and other environmental threats. Connect rainforest management and conservation issues with downstream impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. Become a part of largescale restoration ecology experiments and study environmental policy and community conservation approaches while developing skills in field research and data collection.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Explore the world’s oldest rainforest – the Daintree – then work alongside citizen volunteers to regenerate critical rainforest habitats.
  • Travel to the Great Barrier Reef to learn about the biological links between rainforest and reef ecosystems.
  • Head out of the rainforest to the edge of the Outback and explore the region’s savanna ecosystems and vast limestone caves.

THE FIELD STATION:
Students live and study at the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies. Our Center lies at the end of a narrow, winding road, in the middle of a lush rainforest. The 153-acre property is surrounded by protected World Heritage forests, and comes alive at night with the sounds of wildlife. The nearby town of Yungaburra and city of Cairns provide the occasional return to civilization.


RESEARCH THEMES

  • Climate change resilience
  • Habitat restoration
  • Marsupial behavior
  • Aboriginal ecotourism
  • Post-logging forest recovery
  • Forest ecotones
 

FIELD SKILLS

  • GIS
  • Species identification and population monitoring
  • Forest survey methods
  • Research design
  • Data collection
  • Scientific writing and presentation
 

LEARN MORE

REQUEST INFORMATION

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CONNECT WITH SFS

Visit the SFS website
Call the Admissions Hotline at 800.989.4418
Email admissions@fieldstudies.org
Read updates from the field on the SFS Blog
Follow SFS on Instagram and Facebook
Watch student videos on YouTube and Vimeo
 


AU Semester

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
The School for Field Studies (SFS) Tropical Rainforest Studies study abroad program in Queensland, Australia, provides exciting opportunities for students to study and work hands-on in rainforest management and restoration in the country’s tropical rainforest.

OVERVIEW
For thousands of years, the tropical rainforests of Far North Queensland, Australia, have been home to Aboriginal groups that play a vital role in co-managing the World Heritage Wet Tropics. The forests also are home to numerous plants, birds, and marsupials found nowhere else in the world. Daintree National Park, where the rainforest-covered mountains meet the coast, is home to some of the oldest living plants on Earth. Giant strangler figs, abundant vines and epiphytes, large pythons, colorful parrots, the giant cassowary, bandicoots, and tree kangaroos fill the Wet Tropics forests with color, sound, and complexity.

Northeastern Queensland’s ancient rainforests preserve millions of years of evolutionary history, though unfortunately, these repositories have been greatly affected by habitat loss, fragmentation, and climate change. Northern Australia once supported extensive rainforests, but logging, mining, and agricultural production over the past two centuries have destroyed and degraded rainforest habitats, disrupting the patterns and processes that keep these forests vibrant. Today, over much of the area, only fragments of the original forests remain.

Global climate change is very likely contributing to accelerating the loss of plant and animal species as well. The potentially devastating effect of climate change is playing out in the rainforests of Far North Queensland, where climate models predict a significant rise in local temperatures over the next century. The world-renowned Wet Tropics are often viewed as the “canary in the coal mine,” as a threat of this magnitude could possibly result in the loss of more than half of all Australian bird species and endemic mammals.

Australia continues to be a global front-runner in recognizing the significance of ecosystem services and restoration ecology practices to maintain and ensure healthy rainforests. The country has halted rainforest destruction, established effective protected areas, and is confronting the threat of forest species loss from climate change more proactively than most tropical countries. Still, the integrity and survival of these ancient, unique, and majestic rainforests hinge upon developing management solutions that consider large-scale and localized impacts on biodiversity, including global climate change, while also providing conditions for economic and social sustainability for local communities.

STUDENT RESEARCH
The program curriculum and research agenda address a critical local and regional environmental problem—loss and fragmentation of once extensive rainforests—and examine environmental policies related to the issue on local and national levels. SFS staff and students, in collaboration with local landholders and stakeholder organizations, focus on enhancing the condition of tropical rainforests, as well as determining how to regenerate and restore the rainforest on the Atherton Tablelands.Students learn field research techniques as they collect data on:
  • Potential responses to global climate change
  • Habitat use and animal behaviors
  • Resilience to cyclonic events, land-use
  • Local resident involvement in restoration projects
  • Cost-effective and ecologically beneficial methods of restoration
SFS students’ work is recognized as a vital contribution toward broader studies on global climate change, ecological integrity of rainforest fragments, and developing restoration practices to maximize rates of plant growth and colonization by fauna. Students are also actively involved in replanting initiatives and restoration site maintenance with local land-care groups.

FIELD RESEARCH, LECTURES, AND EXERCISES
  • Camp in the Outback and explore Chillagoe's caves, rock formations, remnant dry rainforests, and eucalypt savannah
  • Excursion to Cape Tribulation and Daintree National Park: walk through lowland rainforests, giant sedges with peppermint stick insects, mangrove forests, and palm forests; traverse the Daintree River, famous for its crocodiles; visit the canopy tower at the Daintree Environment Centre; sample and examine an array of forest types across the landscape
  • Lend a hand at the TREAT (Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands Inc.) nursery
  • Learn about the geology and historical geography of the Atherton Tablelands
  • Assess local residents’ and tourists’ attitudes toward nature and restoration
  • Assess seedling recruitment of restored tropical rainforest at revegetation sites
  • Examine growth and mortality of tropical rainforest species
  • Sample plant functional traits and their effect on drought, frost, and cyclone resistance
  • Examine fauna in endangered plant communities
  • Develop field research skills including: GIS; rainforest management strategies; seedling propagation; social science research methods; data recording and analysis; research design; restoration techniques; and climate modeling
COMMUNITY FOCUS
The Atherton Tablelands and Wet Tropics have been home to the Center for Rainforest Studies for over 25 years. SFS is an active and engaged partner with many community organizations including TREAT (Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands Inc.), Landcare, and Tablelands National Park Volunteers. Our research provides solid scientific data and has direct policy implications for local decision-makers. It also creates important linkages between our Center and the diverse stakeholders involved in rainforest restoration and management and the development of sustainable communities and industries.

Perhaps of greatest importance, by participating in restoration projects side-by-side with citizen volunteers, students come to understand rainforest ecosystems and management from a local perspective. Our students forge strong connections with residents who are passionate and knowledgeable about environmental stewardship.

SFS students get involved in community volunteer projects and social activities such as:
  • Helping local conservation groups and communities plant rainforest trees
  • Participating in community fauna surveys
  • Attending special lectures on wildlife in conjunction with local conservation groups
  • Hosting community dinners and participating in short homestays
  • Attending bush dances and community festivals, visiting the Malanda theatre, and socializing at the local pubs and sporting competitions, such as lawn bowling with Aussies
  • Meeting with Aboriginal elders to learn more about their culture and efforts to reclaim their role in land management

HOUSING
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 97 percent of the property’s 153 acres. The site is alive with the sounds of the rainforest, and sightings of tropical birds, bandicoots, pademelons, musky rat kangaroos, amethystine pythons, and other unique rainforest species are common. 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.


Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2019 10/01/2018 ** Rolling Admission 01/28/2019 05/02/2019
Fall Semester 2019 03/01/2019 ** Rolling Admission 09/02/2019 12/05/2019

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.