A Rainforest Experience

This building houses 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen. Photo Credit: Peter Byrnes

Ever wanted to study or undertake research amongst lush green rainforest? Well here’s your chance!
By Domanii Cameron

If you currently enrolled in the Science and Engineering Faculty, then you will soon have the opportunity to study amid some of the world’s most pristine rainforest.

James Cook University is currently redeveloping the Daintree Rainforest Observatory located in Cape Tribulation.

The redevelopment can now house up to 56 people, which is a significant jump, compared to the previous capacity of 10.

Project Manager Rachel Argent, says the $9.37 million grant from the Federal Government in 2011 enabled an upgrade in facilities.

“The Federal Government Grant enabled JCU to purchase the site, remove the existing portable buildings and provide a research centre designed for the tropical climate.

“The centre will accommodate 40 students, 8 researchers and 2-4 staff,” Ms Argent says.

The construction works which began in August 2013 and are set to finish in this coming May, will provide amenities and kitchens for anyone who utilizes the accommodation, a multi-purpose building for dining and lecturing, a wet laboratory, a field laboratory and an office area.

This building houses 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen. Photo Credit: Peter Byrnes

This building houses 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen. Photo Credit: Peter Byrnes

Ms Argent said the redevelopment has taken into consideration numerous environmental issues and will be conscious of any energy consumed.

“There is extensive environmental management on the site.

“We have our own water harvesting, on-site sewerage and there are proposals for solar panels which would be backed up by generators.

“We also have a building management system on-site which shows the energy usage so we will be able to regularly check our energy consumption.”

The project, which is expected to be completed on time and on budget is a wonderful example of sustainable life in the tropics, she says.

“It has been a positive experience for anyone who has worked on the project.

“The grant has allowed us to build and establish a globally significant field research centre for the conduct of research on low land tropical rainforest environment.”

The redevelopment is set to be completed In May 2014. Photo Credit: Peter Byrnes.

The redevelopment is set to be completed In May 2014. Photo Credit: Peter Byrnes.

The land was granted ministerial designation in 2013, which will allow future developments and renovations.

Ms Argent confirmed that the site has a master plan that would provide accommodation for up to 80 students. However more funding would be required.

Site Manager Peter Byrnes says Cape Tribulation is an ideal location for students or researchers to undertake studies.

“It has high plant biodiversity and lots of fauna and animals.

“It is a large area of continuous rainforest so it provides a less disturbed space,” he says.

“We’ll do any research that people want to come and do as long as it has strong scientific validity and is not repeating stuff that’s been done before, so we have criteria that projects have to meet.”

JCU students can expect to visit the site from the 1st of June this year.