Posted: September 20, 2011

Tropical Rainforest Studies, Australia

 

Academic Update
The new semester is now in full swing with the new students arriving in the first week of September. Already it seems that this group is blessed, with a close encounter with a large Cassowary while visiting the highland rainforest at Mt Hypipamee. Some groups go for a whole semester and do not see a Cassowary, so to get a great look at one after only a few days in the country is very lucky.

The students have taken to classes and field excursions with an enthusiasm that is definitely contagious. The first week here saw students venturing out to the major towns in the Atherton Tablelands to learn for themselves about the history and environmental issues facing far north Queensland communities, which they then presented to each other in small groups.

This week they’ll be out again exploring the fringes of rainforest and learning about the forces that dictate the location and dynamics of this stark ecotone. If this happens to involve a trip to the awesome views of Gillies lookout and the mighty ‘Cathedral fig’ then so be it. I really look forward to getting stuck into research projects on rainforest restoration this semester, as it’s an exciting time to have the students involved in restoration in the Tablelands at the moment.
– Dr. Rohan Wilson, Lecturer in Forest Management

 

Student Reflection
We’ve just completed our first week at The SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies. It’s been a whirlwind packed with meeting new people, getting introduced to our three classes, familiarizing ourselves with the Centre and the site, and learning our first Aussie strines (I think I can speak for everyone when I say our favorite so far is “budgy smuggler,” which is a speedo).

It’s amazing that we’ve only been here a week when thinking about all we’ve already gotten to do. Our second day of class, we broke up into four groups and went to four small towns in the Atherton Tablelands. Our task was to talk with local community members to learn about the town’s history, culture, former and current industries, and approach to environmental management. We then presented our findings and discussed how these elements interact to create a sense of place and the importance of including this element when studying conservation. Saturday has been my favorite day so far. Siggy, our rainforest ecology professor, took us on a geology tour all over the Tablelands. This was so cool because we stopped off the road at outlooks, lakes, parks, and rock quarries and Siggy would explain the geological events that happened millions or thousands of years ago to result in this current formation and distribution of biodiversity. We got to swim and eat lunch at beautiful Lake Eacham and then finished the day with a barbeque at a small park overlooking the town of Atherton. Not too shabby.
– Rachel Enright, Clemson University