Before coming to New Zealand I had never set foot in a rainforest before, let alone explored and studied in it every day. I had of course seen textbook pictures and references of temperate rainforests, but to be able to physically touch, draw, and examine the plants we were studying was an experience that a textbook cannot provide.
— Emily Martin, University of Richmond, Summer ‘11
Students compare and contrast the ecological, geographic, 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 differ significantly 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 build on their New Zealand experiences by examining similarities and differences in political structure, co-management arrangements, land-use patterns, and biogeography in the two countries.
Students also participate in indigenous cultural activities and have an opportunity to understand current and historic indigenous land use practices and challenges in both countries. From these opportunities, students gain an understanding of both successful and unsuccessful natural resource management policies and practices in Australia and New Zealand, and identify appropriate management techniques with regards to biological systems, national boundaries, and/or social systems.
FIELD RESEARCH, LECTURES, AND EXERCISES
- 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
- Study biogeographic history and conservation of highly endangered and fragmented rainforest communities
- 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
SUMMER COMBINED: SESSIONS I + II
This summer course can be taken individually (4 credits) or in combination with Session II: Techniques for Rainforest Research in Australia (8 credits). The combined summer program provides a thorough introduction to biodiversity conservation, field research techniques, and the socioeconomic factors influencing land and resource management in two countries. Students participating in both sessions receive a $1,000 discount.
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.