Studying Agroecological Systems in Peru

November 26, 2014

Peru: Biodiversity and Conservation in the Amazon, SFS faculty posts

Mauricio Herrera, Ph.D.
Resident Lecturer in Political Ecology
Biodiversity & Development in the Amazon, Peru

During the last two weeks, students at SFS Peru have been working on their Directed Research (DR) projects. Students working under my supervision have been conducting field and archival research to contribute to building a baseline to study and improve conservation, food security, and food sovereignty through agroecological systems in the Kosñipata Valley, Cusco, Peru.

The long-term aim encompassing this project is to elaborate policy guidelines and on-site projects that would effectively help the population of the Kosñipata Valley improve their control upon the food supply chain they rely on, as well as the nutritional quality of their diet and the ecological quality of the agricultural matrix they depend on. This long-term goal would also contribute significantly to the conservation of protected areas of global relevance for their biodiversity and the ecosystems they sustain.

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Spending Time with Tree Kangaroos

November 25, 2014

Australia: Tropical Rainforest Studies, SFS students

Tessa Anton
Gonzaga University
Biological Sciences
Tropical Rainforest Studies, Australia

What an amazing past couple of weeks it has been here at the SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies! Right now, we are in the middle of our Directed Research (DR) projects. The past two weeks we were doing data collection, and the Natural Resource Management, Socioeconomics, and Rainforest Ecology groups were all going in different directions measuring trees, traveling to indigenous communities, and spending time with tree kangaroos. We are in the write-up portion of DR’s now though, and its nice now to have everyone back together at the Centre.

Two other students and I are in the Rainforest Ecology group. We are doing our DR on Lumholtz’s tree kangaroos in the hopes of developing a standardized release protocol for tree kangaroos on the Atherton Tablelands. It’s pretty crazy imagining that three months ago I didn’t even know tree kangaroos exist! They are a beautiful animal–kind of a cross between a bear, cat, sloth, koala, squirrel, and a raccoon.

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Six Years of Students’ Research on Sustainable Solutions for Tropical Agriculture in Costa Rica

November 24, 2014

Costa Rica: Sustainable Development Studies, SFS faculty posts

Achim Häger, Dr. forest
Resident Lecturer in Principles of Natural Resources Management
Sustainable Development Studies, Costa Rica

Agriculture is a main driver of habitat destruction and biodiversity loss in the tropics. Land use change and agriculture are estimated to contribute about one third to global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). On the other hand, agroecosystems offer an enormous GHG mitigation potential that we are just beginning to understand and put to work. It is also evident that successful conservation of tropical biodiversity needs to integrate rural livelihoods and human-modified landscapes. Protected areas alone are not enough. Agroforestry is one strategy to reconcile agricultural productivity with greenhouse gas mitigation and conservation goals.

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Hour of Power, Island Style

November 22, 2014

SFS students, Turks & Caicos: Marine Resource Studies

Kathleen West
Amherst College
Environmental Studies
Marine Resource Studies, Turks & Caicos Islands

Last week we participated in the 9th Annual Ted Mullin Hour of Power. This is a fundraiser in the form of an hour-long relay undertaken mostly by swim teams that raises money and awareness for sarcoma research in honor of the late Ted Mullin (Carleton College Swimming ‘06).  The SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies (CMRS) has been participating in its own way for three years. This was also my third year in a row participating in the Hour of Power; though this one was a completely different style than that of my team at school, it was great to keep the tradition going.

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Data Collection in Tanzania

November 19, 2014

Kenya & Tanzania: Wildlife Management Studies, SFS students

Doran Zimmerman
University of Vermont
Environmental Studies
Wildlife Management Studies, Tanzania

The past two weeks at the SFS Center for Wildlife Conservation at Moyo Hill have proven to be truly unbelievable for all 42 student-researchers. Courses have drawn to an end with the recent completion of finals exams and the duly awaited Directed Research (DR) projects have been chosen/assigned and are now underway.

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Directed Research on South Caicos

November 18, 2014

SFS faculty posts, Turks & Caicos: Marine Resource Studies

Kathy Baier-Lockhart, M.S.
Lecturer in Marine Resource Management
SFS Alum
Marine Resource Studies, Turks & Caicos Islands

No rest for the weary at the SFS Center for Marine Resources Studies (CMRS) in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).  Anyone who ever said that island life is laid back and relaxing has never been to one of The School for Field Studies’s programs. I remember the students first arriving at the CMRS in South Caicos, and stating what they most wanted out of the program.  It was often said: sharks; dolphins; diving in beautiful waters; and understanding how important this place is to the local people.

Little did they realize that it is so much more.  The students have now taken their strong background in ecology, marine resources management, and environmental policy to Directed Research (DR) projects that range from elasmobranchs to local commercial fisheries to stakeholder interpretations.

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No Doubt About It – We Are Living the Mekong

November 17, 2014

Cambodia & Vietnam: The Living Mekong, SFS students

Jake Meyers
Washington and Jefferson College
Environmental Studies
The Living Mekong: Cambodia & Vietnam

As students of The Living Mekong program, we are tasked with the joy of discovering the complexity and importance of the Mekong River to the region’s ecosystems and socioeconomic systems. To do this, you have to actually live and experience life along the Mekong, and SFS has provided us with plenty of opportunities to truly discover the rich biodiversity and culture within Cambodia and Vietnam. Take for example the two weeks leading up to our final exams.

One of our first field trips back in Siem Reap was an “insect walk” within Angkor. We spent the better half of the morning rummaging through the leafy undergrowth of a forested canopy adjacent to Angkor Thom, the last great city of the twelfth century Khmer Empire. Looking at what lies beyond the eyes’ reach, we unearthed whip scorpions, golden orb weavers (spiders that reach up to 8 inches in length), praying mantises, and legions of termites and ants.

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Living on the Lake

November 17, 2014

Cambodia & Vietnam: The Living Mekong, SFS faculty posts

Georgina Lloyd, Ph.D.
Lecturer in Environmental Ethics and Development
The Living Mekong, Cambodia & Vietnam

Last weekend SFS Living Mekong students were once again out on the great Tonle Sap Lake – the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. During this trip students visited Kampong Phluk, a series of three stilted villages located where the Roluos River meets the great lake. On the trip students met with representatives from community based organisations and community fisheries.

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A Week in the Clouds

November 14, 2014

Peru: Biodiversity and Conservation in the Amazon, SFS students

Annika Min
University of California, Berkeley
Environmental Science
Biodiversity  & Development in the Amazon, Peru

I looked down at the blue outlines of cascading ridges, and for the hundredth time at the Wayqecha field station, I was stunned by where I was: in the cloud forest on the edge of the Peruvian Andes, at the very beginning of the Amazon rainforest.

The rain from the clouds that swept through the mountains there would make its way all the way to the Atlantic Ocean on the other side of the continent, passing through Peru and Brazil and flowing through tributaries and eventually into the Amazon river. I have seen so many amazing sights in the past two months — monkeys, bats, giant kapok trees, awe-inspiring lightning and thunderstorms, waves of army ants, tapirs, the glittering lights of Cusco, and the ruins of Machu Picchu — but for me nothing compares to staring out the windows of Wayqecha’s dining hall and realizing exactly where I was: at the brink of the Amazon, a place that just a year ago I had no inkling I would ever get to see in my lifetime.

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How Do Secondary Forests Develop Over Time?

November 13, 2014

Australia: Tropical Rainforest Studies, SFS faculty posts

Catherine Pohlman, Ph.D.
Resident Lecturer in Principles of Forest Management
Tropical Rainforest Studies, Australia

Many people are familiar with the rapid loss and degradation of tropical rainforest over the last few decades in places like the Amazon, the Congo Basin, and Southeast Asia. Chief among the drivers of this forest loss are logging (both legal and illegal), clearing for palm oil plantations, clearing for large-scale agriculture and cattle grazing, clearing for subsistence agriculture, mining, and the lack of effective government regulation of such activities (and, in many countries, systemic corruption of both the government and the public service).

Perhaps less well known is the fact that many of these processes have already been played out in parts of the Wet Tropics bioregion of northeastern Australia – giving us an opportunity to study how tropical rainforests respond to such dramatic landscape-scale transformations in the long term and perhaps a “look into the future” for the tropics as a whole.

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