Center for Rainforest Studies


This is not the Australia you know. Towering strangler fig trees and rare species like the southern cassowary and mahogany glider can be found in these ancient rainforests. Far North Queensland is one of the most biodiverse places in the world, preserving over 500 million years of evolutionary history. It is also home to Earth’s largest living organism – the Great Barrier Reef.

Based in this rugged region, SFS programs take place in Australia’s legendary forests, with excursions to the edge of the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef. Our research focuses on the environmental threats that have caused rainforest fragmentation, species loss, and reef die-off, and we work with the Mandingalbay Yidinji Indigenous people and Tablelands communities on restoration and management projects to reverse these impacts.



Rainforest to Reef

Immerse yourself in the rich biodiversity of the rainforest and learn about socio-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 large-scale restoration ecology experiments and study environmental policy and community conservation approaches while developing skills in field research and data collection.
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14 Weeks
16 Credits
Fall 2020

Aug 31 - Dec 3


Spring 2021

Jan 25 - Apr 29


Fall 2021

Aug 30 - Dec 2


summer session I

Rainforests of New Zealand and Australia

In this two-country summer study abroad program, you will learn how environmental and social factors have contributed to 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 natural resource use and relationship with the environment, and examine ecosystem restoration approaches.
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04 Weeks
04 Credits
Summer 2021

May 31 - Jun 30


summer session II

Watersheds of the Wet Tropics

The Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforests of northern Australia form a complex, interconnected system. Study abroad this summer and learn about rainforest and watershed management in this verdant region while considering the policies and actions needed to maintain healthy waterways in the face of climate change.
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04 Weeks
04 Credits
Summer 2020

Jul 6 - Aug 5


Summer 2021

Jul 5 - Aug 4


Life In The Field

At the end of a narrow, winding road, in the middle of a lush rainforest, lies this remote field station. Our 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.

  • Group living in 8-person cabins
  • Main building with classroom, lab, and study spaces
  • Student lounge with scenic porch views
  • Covered outdoor dining area, on-site cooking cooking staff
  • On-campus trails network for rainforest hikes
  • Space to relax: volleyball, yoga, hammocks
Click here to read stories and tips from students, staff, and faculty on our blog

It feels like a dream to walk through these ancient forests full of giant trees, curling vines, lush tree ferns, and swaying palms.

Lindsey Schad
Miami University


Research at the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies focuses on rainforest management, ecosystem restoration, and the complex connection between the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Students and faculty engage with local communities, indigenous groups, NGOs, and local landholders. As the oldest rainforest on the planet, management strategies developed here may serve as a model for conserving and restoring other rainforests around the world.
Our research focuses primarily on the following themes:

  • Climate change
  • Rainforest fragmentation and recovery
  • Marsupial behavior
  • Aboriginal ecotourism
  • Development and settlement in the rainforest
  • Forest ecotones
  • Habitat restoration

Environmental Issues

Our Centers are strategically located in regions facing critical environmental issues. Students and faculty study these issues and collect data to help facilitate sustainable responses. In Australia, we’re currently investigating the following issues:

Climate Change
Biodiversity Conservation
Land Use Change
Community Resource Management
Natural Resource & Water Management
Sustainable Livelihoods
Learn More About the Issues


The Local Community

SFS is an active part of the Queensland community. Throughout the program, students assist in local restoration projects, host community dinners, attend festivals, and socialize with local conservation groups and at sporting competitions. SFS research data is shared with the community, local NGOs, and the Australian government.