Conversion of tropical forests to oil palm plantations across SE Asia is among the most pressing conservation challenges in the world today. At risk are millions of acres of primary and secondary tropical forests, along with the ecosystem services and wildlife habitat they provide. This course explores the complex ecological, social, economic and political dimensions of tropical forest conservation through an immersive experience in the tropical forests of Malaysian Borneo with regional conservation leaders.
Students will be introduced to the major conservation challenges facing Borneo during several days spent visiting conservation centers in Sepilok, in the Malaysian state of Sabah. There we will learn from conservation scientists working at the Rainforest Discovery Center, Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, and the Bornean Sunbear Conservation Center.
From Sepilok the class will transfer via bus and boat to the Danau Girang Field Center, a collaborative research and training facility managed by the Sabah Wildlife Department and Cardiff University of Wales. Danau Girang is located inside the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, in the heart of Sabah. The center lies within a lowland dipterocarp forest comprised of primary and secondary forest, in a diverse landscape including oil palm plantations, small-scale agriculture, and villages. The Sanctuary is home to ten species of primates, the Bornean elephant, several cat species, the Bornean Sunbear, abundant herpetofauna as well as hundreds of species of birds.
While at Danau Girang, our students will work and learn alongside student interns and researchers from Cardiff and other universities around the world. Activities will include classroom lectures, field tours, assistance with the field research of Danau Girang researchers, and service learning activities undertaken to further the goals of the Center.
Planning is underway to explore further forest and wildlife management within two major forest reserves, and to learn about the social, economic, and ecological impacts of oil palm plantations. Finally, arrangements are being made to expose students to a number of community-based organizations working in the Kota Kinabalu area on issues related to economic development, environmental protection, community health, education, and cultural preservation.
Space for this program is limited so be sure to apply early!
Following this course, students may stay on in Borneo for 1-2 months as interns in a field of their choosing; opportunities are available in field research, environmental education, community development, wildlife conservation and rehabilitation, forest management, and more. Contact Michele Justice for more information. You can utilize financial aid and earn credit for these internships!
Check out this video of Datuk Sam Mannan, director of the Sabah Forestry Department, discussing conservation in Sabah Borneo and raising the value of rainforest.
Want to learn more about Borneo? Check out this cool National Geographic documentary!
Learn more about the work of young conservation scientists at the Danau Girang Field Center in this short video!
Click the thumbnail to check out photo highlights of the Malaysian Borneo trip!
Faculty-led programs are available to ALL OSU STUDENTS.