Skip to content

Programs : Brochure

This page is the brochure for your selected program. You can view the provided information for this program on this page and click on the available buttons for additional options.
  • Locations: Atherton Tablelands, Australia
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: The School for Field Studies (SFS) 
  • Restrictions: Augsburg applicants only
  • Dates / Deadlines
Program Description:


sfs australia2


  • Term: Summer Session I
  • Credits: 4 semester-hour credits (8 credits if taken with Session II)
  • Prerequisites: No course prerequisites: 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


In this dual-country program, study the impacts of environmental and social factors on forest fragmentation in the spectacular, once-vast rainforests of Australia and New Zealand. Compare endangered species management practices, meet with Indigenous communities to learn about their use of forest resources and relationship with the environment, and learn about ecosystem restoration approaches.

  • Learn about the Maori people’s connection with nature as you explore the ancient podocarp and Kauri forests of northern New Zealand, which contain trees estimated to be more than 2,000 years old.

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 you can see incredible wildlife from the front steps of your cabin. Nearby Yungaburra and Cairns provide the occasional return to civilization.


Take back-to-back summer sessions and get the hands-on learning and skill-building experiences of an internship, while also going off the beaten path and exploring the world. Each summer session focuses on a different topic, and you’ll have time to travel independently between sessions. Receive a $1,000 discount on your second session.





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

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.

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.
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 spotlighting
  • Learn social science survey techniques and how to quantifiably and qualitatively assess human resource use and how it relates to restoration and conservation
  • Assess density and diversity of flora and fauna in pristine forests and restoration plots

  • Biogeographic history and conservation of highly endangered and fragmented rainforest communities
  • Putting people into the matrix—developing natural resource management policies that work
  • Field techniques for sampling rainforest faunal communities, floral communities, and social and economic variables associated with rainforest use

  • Examine the influence of fragmentation and other impacts on abiotic and biotic attributes of forest communities in Australia and New Zealand
  • Visit the ancient rainforest refugia at Mossman Gorge and Daintree National Park
  • Explore the ancient podocarp and Kauri forests of northern New Zealand
  • Examine historic Aboriginal and Maori land-use practices in Australia and New Zealand and experience contemporary indigenous culture

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 program
  • There are five days off between courses for independent travel. Students will be near great locations, such as the Great Barrier Reef.
  • There are no prerequisites
  • Possible SFS travel grants may apply for airfare

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.

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2020 03/01/2020 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** 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.