Center for Amazon Studies


In the heart of the Amazon, dense green foliage blankets the horizon as far as the eye can see. For millennia, its rich natural resources have supported human communities and an incredible diversity of wildlife species found nowhere else on the planet. This great and complex rainforest is also one of the world’s most impactful ecosystems – Amazonian watersheds account for 20% of the world’s river water.

However, the forests of the Peruvian Amazon are increasingly under threat from climate change, rapid development, and extractive activities like logging and mining. From the terra firme and flooded forests of the lowlands to the glacial lakes and tropical montane forests of the Andes, Peru’s landscapes need comprehensive and inclusive strategies for conservation. Our research here provides important insights into the fate of the Amazon and all the life that depends on it.



Biodiversity and Development in the Amazon

Explore the extraordinarily biodiverse ecosystems of the northern Peruvian Amazon. Discuss threats to the region – from climate change to resource extraction – and get at the heart of Peru’s conservation and development issues. Experience flooded forests on a multi-day riverboat expedition and travel to the Andean highlands where you’ll visit cloud forests and the historic Incan capital of Cusco, the hub for visitors to Machu Picchu.
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15 Weeks
18 Credits
Fall 2020

Aug 31 - Dec 11


Spring 2021

Jan 25 - May 7


Life In The Field

Between the remote city of Iquitos and the port city of Nauta, nestled in the Amazon, sits the Center. The sounds of the forest permeate our campus, from student cabins to the pool and open-air student lounge. The rainforest is accessible via an on-campus trail system which traverses our 183-acre property. Small communities and local shops are within walking distance.

  • Dorm living with 6-person bunkrooms
  • Open-air student lounge and study space
  • Large dining area, and on-site cooking staff
  • Trail network extends from campus into the rainforest
  • Traditional thatched-roof classroom
  • Swimming pool, soccer field, volleyball court, and hammock huts
Click here to read stories and tips from students, staff, and faculty on our blog

We saw squirrel monkeys hopping from tree to tree and pink river dolphins circling the river mouth, searching for fish. Now we are cruising in an open wooden boat under the stars, using a spotlight to search for caimans along the rainforest shore. The energy contained in this place is indescribably vibrant and the forest constantly spills over with sound and movement.

Katelyn Hammel
University of North Carolina


Research at the SFS Center for Amazon Studies focuses on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem protection in the face of increasing human development and resource use. Students and faculty engage with local communities, Indigenous groups, land managers, agriculturalists, conservation organizations, and fellow researchers. As the only rainforest left of its size, the Amazon harbors unmatched biodiversity and carbon sequestration, and the success of conservation efforts here has both regional and global implications.

Our research focuses primarily on the following themes:

  • Climate change
  • Forest and soil ecology
  • Sustainable aquaculture
  • Natural resource management
  • Forest health and recovery
  • Sustainable use of non-timber forest products
  • Perceptions and impacts of development in the Amazon
  • Rural livelihoods and land use

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 Peru, we’re currently investigating the following issues:

Climate Change
Biodiversity Conservation
Environmental Policy
Environmental Ethics & Justice
Natural Resource & Water Management
Sustainable Livelihoods
Learn More About the Issues


The Local Community

SFS is an active member of the community in the broader Iquitos region. During the program, students interact with local people, researchers, and conservation organizations, visit nearby communities, help lead a youth environmental group, and join local sporting and cultural events. SFS research data is shared with the communities, local NGOs, and Peruvian government.