Name: Catherine Pohlman, Ph.D.
Position: Lecturer in Principles of Forest Management
Program: Tropical Rainforest Studies, Australia

This week the SFS convoy headed north, down the Rex Range, through the Mossman lowlands, across the Daintree River, and into the Daintree rainforest. The Daintree rainforest is the largest area of tropical lowland rainforest remaining in Australia and is home to many of the “living fossil” species for which the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area was listed. There is no mains power in the Daintree and access is via the Daintree River ferry, rather than a bridge (and the only TV reception you can get is for the station Imparja, which services regional and remote communities across the Australian interior), so the Daintree experience is a step away from modern conveniences and a small taste of jungle living.

On this field trip, students had the chance to learn about the structure and dynamics of lowland rainforest, spot endemic bird species (although sadly we didn’t get to see a cassowary this time) and clamber through some of the few remaining areas of fan-palm (Licuala ramsayi) swamp. When not fighting their way through the rainforest, students undertook research into the social aspects of conservation in the Daintree – particularly the interaction of ecotourism and rainforest conservation. The highlight of the trip, however, was probably the visit to the Exotic Fruit Farm, where students sampled a wide variety of unusual (and delicious) tropical fruits grown sustainably in the local area.