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  • Locations: Atherton Tablelands, Australia
  • Program Terms: Fall Semester, Spring Semester
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: The School for Field Studies (SFS) 
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall Semester 2023 01-APR-2023
Rolling Admission 01-SEP-2023 12-DEC-2023

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Class Status: 1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year, 4th year, Graduate student Minimum GPA Requirement: 2.7
Click here for a definition of this term Language Requirement: none Click here for a definition of this term Open to Non-UVa Students: No
Housing: University dormitory Language Courses Offered: No
Language of Instruction: English Click here for a definition of this term Credit Type: Transfer Credit
Click here for a definition of this term Program Type: Field Study/ Experiential, Study center Click here for a definition of this term Tuition Payments Made To: Program Provider
Click here for a definition of this term Education Abroad Advisor: Hayley Spear Click here for a definition of this term Application Fee: Yes
Click here for a definition of this term Study Abroad Administrative Fee: Yes Click here for a definition of this term Subject Area: Anthropology, Biology, Economics, Environmental Sciences, Foreign Affairs, Geography, Geology
Program Description:


sfs australia


  • Terms: Fall, Spring
  • Credits: 16 semester-hour credits
  • Prerequisites: One semester of college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies/science; 2.7 GPA, 18 years of age
  • Application Deadline: Fall: May 1st. Spring: Nov 1st. Early applications encouraged
  • Financial Aid: All accepted students can apply for need-based scholarships, grants, and loans


Immerse yourself in the rich biodiversity of the rainforest and learn about ecological resilience in the face of environmental threats like climate change. 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.

  • Explore the world’s oldest rainforest – the Daintree – then work alongside citizen volunteers to regenerate critical rainforest habitats.
  • Travel to the Great Barrier Reef to learn about the biological links between rainforest and reef ecosystems.
  • Experience firsthand the transition from savannas on the edge of the Outback to the lush green coastal rainforests and mangroves.

Students live and study at the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies. Our Center lies at the end of a narrow, winding road, in the middle of a lush rainforest. The 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.


  • Climate change
  • Rainforest ecology and conservation
  • Threatened species conservation
  • Development and settlement in the rainforest
  • Aboriginal ecotourism
  • Forest ecotones
  • Habitat restoration
  • Animal behavior


  • GIS
  • Species identification and population monitoring
  • Forest survey methods
  • Citizen science protocols
  • Research design and implementation
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Research presentation





Visit the SFS website
Call the Admissions Hotline at 800.989.4418
Read updates from the field on the SFS Blog
Follow SFS on Instagram and Facebook
Watch student videos on YouTube and Vimeo

Our 25th Anniversary

The Center for Rainforest Studies is exploring the biodiversity benefits of restoration, the cost efficiency and ecological effectiveness of rainforest restoration site management practices and restoration planning in a riparian zone. With the results of this research and our replanting projects, we will help to connect and create corridors between existing rainforest fragments, protect local drinking water sources and share best site management practices with rainforest restoration researchers worldwide.

Our field station, the Center for Rainforest Management Studies, lies in the northern foothills of the Atherton Tablelands. Protected World Heritage forests and farmland surround the rolling, hilly site. A third of the property's 153 acres is mature rainforest, with the remaining area being forest regrowth. Student cabins are nestled within the rainforest, and sightings of tropical birds, bandicoots, pademellons and other species of rainforest wildlife are common. Students share eight-person cabins. The main building has lecture, computer, and library rooms and a kitchen.

Courses offered:

SFS offers a 4 course -16 credit semester program each fall and semester,and a 4 credit summer program twice each summer (see below).

Community Interaction:

Conservation, resource use and rainforest restoration are extremely important to the local community. We interact with farmers, resource managers, and members of community groups to help address these issues. We have established a professional Research Advisory Committee to provide local academic and community access to SFS and its resources. We offer advice, based on our research, to local decision-makers on extension programs and networking between our staff and local stakeholders involved in rainforest restoration and management. SFS involvement in community volunteer and social activities may include:

  • Working with local conservation groups and communities to plant rainforest seedlings or to maintain previously planted sites, depending on the season.
  • Sporting competitions with Aussies.
  • Bush dances, community festivals, visiting the Malanda theatre and several local pubs.
  • Short homestays that extend students? personal connections to the community.

Semester Program:

Semester students are registered in four academic courses accredited through Boston University:

BI/EE (NS) 369 Rainforest Ecology
EE (NS) 370 Principles of Forest Management  
EE (SS) 302 Environmental Policy & Socioeconomic Values
EE 491 or 492 Directed Research

Semester Program Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, in good academic standing and have completed at least one college-level ecology or biology course, and at least one semester of college prior to the start of the program

Research interests (student directed research projects):

  • Mapping soils and remnant vegetation along the lower Peterson Creek.
  • Use of restored and natural rainforests by a rainforest bird community.
  • Patterns of colonization of restored rainforest by small- and medium-sized vertebrates on the Atherton Tablelands.
  • Survey of monitoring techniques used by local conservation groups.
  • Costing a restoration site- Pelican Point.
  • Development of a conservation and restoration plan for the lower Peterson Creek.
  • Development of the Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping of the CRS property.

Field Trips, Excursions and Lectures:

  • Our days are spent in a combination of lectures, field trips, field exercises and research. Potential examples include:

    Chillago: camp in the Outback and explore caves, rock formations and eucalypt forests. Learn firsthand about the history of the Barr-Barrum people at Petford, examine land management issues with members of the Barr-Barrum community.

    Cape Tribulation: visit local fruit farm and the Bat Center, where flying foxes are rehabilitated.
    • Wet Tropics Tree Planting Scheme nursery.
    • Geology of Atherton Tablelands.
    • Tinnaroo Dam and agricultural industries, fragmentation of forest.
    • Dairy, sugar cane and other agricultural industries.
    • Seedling recruitment of restored tropical rainforest at experimental site.
    • Growth and mortality of rare and endangered tropical rainforest species.
    • Bird territory and GIS mapping within a restoration site along the lower Peterson Creek.

Summer Program:

Summer students are registered in a 4 credit  course accredited through Boston University:

EE (NS) 355 Tropical Reforestation

Please note:  It is intended that the current 4 credit program will be replaced by 2 new 4 credit programs in Australia which will include 2 weeks in New Zealand.  Please check the SFS website for latest details.

Summer Program Applicants must be at least 16 years of age, in good academic standing and have completed at least the junior year of high school prior to the start of the program.

Research interests:

Although the rainforests of the Atherton Tableland are protected as World Heritage sites, the pressures on them continue. The local community struggles with differing views about how these forests should be used and managed. Several local groups have focused on the concept of rainforest reforestation. The basic premises of reforestation, and the benefits they promise for endangered wildlife species such as the cassowary and tree kangaroo, seem self-evident. Yet the realities of rainforest restoration are much more complex. Rainforest ecosystems are incredibly diverse, characterized by a slow rate of regeneration. It is not clear if degraded forest can ever be returned to its original state. In addition, given the differing views of the local community, any strategies for reforestation must be shown to have economic benefits if they are to be viable in the long term.

Lectures addressing relevant topics in conservation biology, forest ecology and tropical resource management provide the basis for our fieldwork. Students will monitor past reforestation efforts and assess specific reforestation and site management strategies. The culminating summer project will focus on one or more of the following themes: ecological development, maintenance experiment costs and seedling recruitment and growth, or restoration planning and management.

Field Trips, Excursions and Lectures:

  • Chillago: camp in the Outback and explore caves, rock formations and eucalypt forests in a region once covered in rainforest. At Dimbullah we learn first hand about the history of the Aboriginals, and examine land management issues with members of this community.
  • Trip to past reforestation plots around the tablelands to assess the success of various tree species and planting techniques.
  • Field exercises in surrounding World Heritage rainforest, an area containing volcanic crater lakes, trees and wildlife.

This program is currently not accepting applications.