This short film gives a quick look at a pioneering field course designed to emulate the true nature of research and conservation in the tropics. Students of conservation biology and zoology from the University of Exeter work alongside sponsored students from Universitas Tanjungpura and Universitas Borneo in an area of community owned and protected rainforest in North Kalimantan. Here they learn and practice survey techniques while immersed in the environment they are studying, while also collaborating with local counterparts and the indigenous people who own the forest.

The field course contributes to the efforts of the people of Long Setulang – owners and protectors of the forest – to find a sustainable path forward. This interaction with local people gives the students a unique but vital insight into the perspectives of indigenous peoples living on the front lines of conservation, and one that is very difficult to teach in the classroom. Student feedback from each university is incredible, as is the reception from the village. It’s not an easy course to deliver, but it’s certainly worth the effort.

This project is a really good example of the way in which the Beyond Group of organisations I’m building are designed to fit together. Beyond Exploration delivers what is essentially a commercial product (the field course) in a way that directly contributes to a priority area of Beyond Conservation (community led rainforest conservation in Borneo), while The Beyond Collective create and produce media (this little film) to promote and share the work. Each organisation focuses on it’s mission and organisational skillset, and the whole group benefits as a result.

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