JCU Daintree Rainforest Observatory

James Cook University is Australia’s leading tropical research university and among the top five tropical universities of the world for research in the university’s areas of research excellence (viz. ecology/environment, plant and animal science, geosciences, coral reef science and tourism). JCU was the only university in Australia that received the highest ranking of 5 (well above world standard) in the category Environmental Science and Management in the Australian government’s Excellence in Research Assessment exercise in 2010.

JCU environmental sciences
The rainforest is part of JCU’s unique location

The JCU Centre for Tropical Environmental & Sustainable Science (TESS) represents a cluster of world-class researchers and research students with common interests in the environment and sustainability, with emphasis on the tropics. There are many opportunities to learn with TESS researchers at undergraduate level and study for post-graduate coursework and research degrees at Masters and PhD levels as part of TESS. Students come from all over the world to take advantage of the opportunities provided by JCU’s unique location—in the tropics, in Australia, between reef and rainforest.

The mission of TESS is to promote cutting-edge ecological and environmental research in the tropics, and the wise management, conservation and sustainable use of tropical terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, in Australia and internationally.



Students come from all over the world to study with world leading researchers in this unique location situated between the tropical rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. Nowhere else is it possible to visit reef, rainforest and savannah in a single day and return to world-class laboratory facilities in a vibrant and attractive tropical city. And TESS researchers are truly international—they work in more than 40 tropical nations around the world!

TESS Facilities
  • Daintree Rainforest Observatory
  • Orpheus Island Research Station
  • Fletcherview Research Station
  • Cloncurry Research Station
  • Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network FNQ Supersite
  • Australian Tropical Herbarium
The JCU Daintree Rainforest Observatory, or DRO, is a premier ecological monitoring site located in lowland rainforest around 140km north of Cairns in northern Queensland, Australia. The Daintree rainforest has the highest biodiversity anywhere in Australia and offers unique Gondwanan flora. The observatory welcomes educators, students and researchers who want to visit and explore the rainforest and surrounds via the observatory’s canopy crane and other facilities.

Tropical Australia is resource-rich, ecologically fragile and infrastructure-poor, and is undergoing unprecedented growth and development. It is a national priority to develop growth strategies that are ecologically, socially and economically sustainable. TESS is taking a leading role in developing, implementing and exporting solutions for the environmental and sustainability issues faced by Australia and the rapidly developing tropical world.


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