University of Exeter students join Borneo Field Course: bringing benefits to local communities


BNF has been carrying out ecology research for over 20 years in Indonesia. Using these expertise, a long-term priority of BNF is to build capacity in local and international research and conservation. Thus, it is with great pleasure that we are hosting a Field Course for 36 students and 5 lecturers from the University of Exeter (UK) this month. This course will provide the students with an introduction to tropical forest ecology and conservation in Borneo.

The students are participating in the field course run at two of BNF’s research sites: Sebangau Forest (peat-swamp forest) and Rungan Forest (a mosaic of forest types). Dr Helen Bernard-Morrogh, BNF International Co-Director and orangutan behaviour expert, and the BNF Field Team will be sharing their expertise with the students during their time in the rainforest.


Students from University of Exeter and University of Muhammadiyah Palangka Raya arrived in Mungku Baru Village and did a traditional ceremony.

Photo by Yuliana Nona | BNF

BNF is collaborating with the University of Palangka Raya and University of Muhammadiyah Palangka Raya to facilitate this programme. Local students from both universities are also joining the field course to benefit from the learning experience and for the opportunity of cultural exchange between the students.

“We would like to thank CIMTROP at the University of Palangka Raya and University of Muhammadiyah Palangka Raya for helping our students come here and learn about the biodiversity in Sebangau and Rungan Forest. It’s a good opportunity for our students to experience Borneo’s tropical rainforests first-hand,” said Dr. Frank Van Veen from the University of Exeter, during the welcome dinner in Palangka Raya, before they departed to the forests and embark on the 10-day field course.

This programme is also an opportunity to support the community in Mungku Baru Village, near the Rungan Forest. Students are staying in several houses and will experience the local indigenous (Dayak) culture during their visit. It is part of our Community Development Programme to ensure local communities benefit directly from BNF activities.

There are nine houses in Mungku Baru that have become guesthouses and two community members are tour guides for the students to assist with the visit. More than 20 people in Mungku Baru Village have received hospitality training from the BNF Community Development Team to prepare them for the field course.

“Thank you for coming to Palangka Raya and being interested in the forests of Kalimantan [Indonesian Borneo]. There is rich biodiversity in Sebangau Forest, and Kereng Bangkirai Village is an attractive tourist destination in the local area with the blackwater charm of Sebangau River. I wish you will enjoy your stay in the forests and learn as much as you can from the BNF Field Team,” said Teguh, Head of Sebangau Sub-district of Palangka Raya, to all the students and lecturers.

In addition, the Head of Rakumpit Sub-district, in the Rungan Landscape, supported the comments of Teguh, as he welcomed the students to Borneo for this unique educational experience.


Students from University of Exeter arrived in Sebangau Forest. Photo by Yun Pratiwi | BNF | UPT LLG CIMTROP