The New Zealand Project: Ecosystems and Conservation

Meeting Location              Auckland, New Zealand
 Program Dates        Fall 2017: October 22 - December 5, 2017
   Fall 2018: October 21 - December 4, 2018
 Accommodations    Primarily camping, occasional youth hostel or rural lodge
 Language    English instruction
 Courses    ESCI 437A, ESCI 437B, ESCI 437C
 Credits    15 quarter credits or 10 semester credits
 Prerequisites    One college level course of ecology or similar           
   18 years of age


            New Zealand Program Costs, Fall 2017 
 $  150      Application Fee
            $4150      Program Fee
            $2750      Estimated In-Country Group Fee
            $1800      Estimated Air/Visa
            $1500      Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending 

            $10,350    Total Estimated Cost
            Fall 2017: Program fees due by August 1, 2017  

            New Zealand Program Costs, Fall 2018 
 $  150      Application Fee
            $5500      Program Fee
            $2850      Estimated In-Country Group Fee
            $1800      Estimated Air/Visa
            $1500      Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending 

            $11,800    Total Estimated Cost
            Fall 2018: Program fees due by August 1, 2018  


Watch this wonderful student video of our Fall 2014 New Zealand Project

"Wildlands Studies allowed me the opportunity to combine my passion for the outdoors with my enthusiasm for environmental education. I came back after six weeks in New Zealand in awe of how beautiful the country was and with more knowledge than I ever thought possible on island birds and plants, conservation efforts and environmental concerns. Most importantly, Wildlands Studies connected me with some of the greatest friends. The video says more than I can ever put into words. I cannot stress enough how amazing this program is and I would recommend it to anyone!"

-Lauren Hearne
UCLA Wildlands Studies New Zealand Project Fall 2014

Join us this fall as we explore the isolated and fascinating islands of New Zealand. With an array of diverse ecosystems, an incredible number of species found nowhere else on earth, and a captivating human history, New Zealand provides an excellent setting for our ecological field study.

Eighty million years ago, before mammals walked the earth, the land that later became New Zealand drifted away from the ancient supercontinent of Gondwanaland. This early separation from the “mainland” caused New Zealand’s flora and fauna to evolve in the absence of terrestrial mammals, leading to a stunning variety of plants and animals. In fact more than 80% of New Zealand’s native plants and 70% of its native birds are found nowhere else on earth. In addition to its vast biodiversity, New Zealand is also home to breathtaking landscapes. In a relatively compact area, subtropical rainforests give way to steaming volcanoes, majestic alp-like peaks, and miles of wild coastal beaches opening to the South Pacific and Tasman Sea. New Zealanders themselves are also a diverse lot. With a rare mix of English, Scottish, and Polynesian backgrounds, the people of New Zealand are as unique and vibrant as the land they inhabit.


Beginning with the arrival of Polynesians and later exacerbated by Europeans, the native flora and fauna have struggled to survive human colonization. Some species have been overharvested to extinction while others have declined dramatically at the hands of invasive species. To date, over 60 species have disappeared and many more remain on the brink. But there is reason for hope: over the past few decades, as New Zealanders have recognized the vulnerability of their island environment, there has been a concerted effort to conserve, restore and better understand their unique ecosystems and wildlife. Now New Zealand is one of the world leaders in conservation management, invasive species eradication, and island restoration.



Our field course begins with the exploration of volcanic and predator-free islands in northern New Zealand. Here, amongst colorful parrots and rare forest birds, we will hone our species identification skills and examine concepts in insular ecology. As we travel south through the volcanically active center of the North Island, we will investigate the alpine ecology, geology and human history of the region. Our cultural and ecological exploration of the region will continue as we paddle the Whanganui River with local Maori.

Once off the river we will travel to a predator-free island in the Wellington Harbor and then across the Cook Strait to the South Island. While on the South Island we will hike through the mountains of the Kahurangi, travel the rugged West Coast, and explore the alpine valleys of the majestic Southern Alps. Towards the end of the class we will work and hike among the lush Fiordlands before ending the class in breathtaking Queenstown.

Throughout our field study team members will take part in key conservation and restoration projects. Together we will closely investigate natural resource management policies, and work with local organizations on issues concerning animal reintroduction and invasive species management. By the close of the program, each of us will have gained an intimate understanding of New Zealand's fascinating ecology and cultural history, its historical and current environmental challenges, and the conservation and restoration efforts being taken to address them.

MapReadingwebcopyPROJECT LEADER

M.S in Forest Conservation, University of Toronto, 2005
Carlos is a Central American native with a personal and academic interest in conservation science, landscape ecology, socio-economic barriers to conservation, and natural history education in the Mesoamerican region. In addition to many years instructing field based courses, Carlos has held appointments with community based groups, environmental organizations, international development agencies and academic institutions. Carlos has worked professionally in Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, México, Nicaragua and Panamá. He has taught our Costa Rica/Panamá Project since 2011.