As our seventh week comes to a close and our eighth week begins, we are unpacking from our latest Field Exercise and re-packing for mid-semester break. It is unbelievable that we are halfway into this amazing semester. We have had field lectures, midterms, guest speakers, fieldwork, and community service activities that have created many memories. Since first arriving at the Centre for Rainforest Studies we have acquired “new norms” such as chowchilla alarm clocks, regular leech checks, and friendly local marsupials. In these seven weeks we have gained an incredible amount of knowledge and by living in the rainforest we have become a part of the local community.

The local community members are strong advocates for rainforest restoration and many people are involved in conservation efforts. In addition to restoring the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, community members advocate for conserving the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). These two World Heritage Areas are very close to each other and influence each other’s stability. There is a project called the Green Corridor that aims to restore the banks of the Barron River and many local organizations are participants. This river system feeds directly into the GBR and by restoring the vegetation, the river will be less polluted and therefore help the GBR.

This semester we have had the opportunity to see various areas of the Wet Tropics and we understand the dynamics of the rainforest. We also have had the chance to visit the GBR on a snorkeling/diving trip during our free time in Cairns and we now better understand the dynamics of that World Heritage Area too. Having seen the beauty of both World Heritage Areas we have gained even greater respect for everyone who works for their conservation.

Our most recent Field Exercise was in the rainforest of Daintree National Park and we were able to see the beautiful landscapes “where the rainforest meets the reef.” We conducted interviews for our socioeconomics class at different locations in Daintree and were able to soak in the breathtaking scenery at the same time. Seeing the rivers and creeks that flow through the rainforest and lead to the ocean was extraordinary and reminded us why it is so important to have healthy ecosystems. It was wonderful to see the two World Heritage Areas side by side and a great way to wrap up our seventh week in Australia. I cannot wait to see what lies ahead in the second half of this incredible adventure.