Boot Camp for Conservation Changemakers

A Tropical Biology Association course developed in collaboration with SEARRP funded by The Habitat Foundation

Tropical forests are fascinating and dynamic; they are part of Earth’s life support system. They are refuges for an incredible number of plants and animals as well as the main source of mitigating climate change.  There is a pressing need to manage these precious ecosystems sustainably and raise awareness of how everyone can play a role in their conservation.

This is why we have developed our pioneering conservation Boot Camp.  This course will equip aspiring changemakers with the skills, knowledge and inspiration they need to work at the frontline of conservation: to ensure that our precious natural resources are maintained for generations to come.

The need for effective frontliners in the area of conservation has never been more acute.  As we confront the global climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, we need people who can strengthen the management of protected areas and find solutions to manage our natural resources sustainably for the long term.   Our course is designed for people who have the passion to change the status quo by equipping them  with practical skills and understanding that can’t be taught in the classroom.

The Tropical Biology Association (TBA) and the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) have partnered with The Habitat Foundation in Penang, Malaysia to run a cutting-edge field-based training course to give a new generation of Malaysian and Southeast Asian conservation practitioners the skills and practical knowledge they require to become successful changemakers in their own countries.

Click here to download the course flyer

How the course will work

The course has been specially developed by experienced conservation educators and will be practical and dynamic.  The course is being led by Dr Rosie Trevelyan and Dr Kevin Wallace from TBA, who will be complemented by other facilitators and subject specialists based in Malaysia. More information on local facilitators will be added in the coming weeks.

Being immersed in a tropical forest is the best way to learn about our precious biodiversity and practical solutions for conserving it while considering the needs of rural and urban populations.  Participants will also gain skills in engaging and communicating with key sectors of society.  They will leave the course with the insights, skills and confidence that changemakers need to bring about lasting change.

On the Boot Camp, changemakers will:

Where you will be taught

The course will be taught at both The Habitat Penang Hill, a world-class eco-tourism facility located at the top of Penang Hill, 700 meters above sea-level, and in the city of George Town, the capital of Penang State in Malaysia.

The island of Penang, the venue for the course, has historically been a centre for exploration since it was founded as a British Colony in 1786. Numerous species of flora and fauna were first recorded and described from these forests by early naturalists. Although the island has experienced rapid economic growth, a third or more of the island remains under natural forest cover and harbours rich diversity. The Habitat Penang Hill offers the perfect vantage point to take in the forest views from its iconic canopy walkways and is also an important centre for conservation, research and training.

The biodiversity-rich landscapes extend from the hill forests of Penang Hill to wonderful examples of wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, coral reefs, and sandy beaches found in Penang National Park. These are natural habitats for thousands of plant and animal species, including many that are on the IUCN Red List. Some of the endemic and endangered species include the pangolin and slow loris. A turtle sanctuary provides safe haven for sea turtles which nest on the beach all year round. Here you will also find a seasonal meromictic lake composed of freshwater above and seawater below, each with its own amazing mini-ecosystem. It is one of only five such lakes in Asia.

All these remarkable ecosystems are represented in an area of 12,500 hectares comprising both terrestrial and marine landscapes. This area is being nominated by the Malaysian government as a UNESCO Man & the Biosphere Programme and will potentially join 670 Biosphere Reserves around the world as a learning site for preserving environmentally valuable ecosystems while sustaining the needs of the local population. George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a city where the state government is actively negotiating the need to manage the pressures of population growth while doing its best to preserve the built heritage and vibrant expressions of local culture and history.

The Habitat Foundation, the sister organization of The Habitat Penang Hill, is a non-profit organization which supports biodiversity conservation initiatives through its programmes which cover conservation, research, education, sustainability, and training. The Habitat is committed to fulfilling its vision of establishing Penang Hill as a hub for rainforest research and sustainability studies.

Penang offers unrivalled opportunities to be exposed to a range of relevant landscapes and scenarios which call for improved practice. Through its close relationship with local government agencies as well as academic institutions, and in close collaboration with Tropical Biology Association (TBA) and Southeast Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP), The Habitat seeks to offer a bespoke Boot Camp experience that will provide frontliners with a strong foundation to face the ever-evolving challenges as they strive to bring about important and meaningful changes in their respective fields.

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for early career professionals and practitioners working in Southeast Asia in the fields of environmental conservation and planning, natural resource management, urban environmental issues, and sustainability-related sectors.  It would also be of value for individuals that have switched to conservation from other sectors. Eligible countries are from Southeast Asia only: Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The cost of the course which includes food and accommodation, field excursions as well as full tuition fees, is MYR1,700. This has been heavily subsidized by The Habitat Foundation. Participants will need to cover their own travel to Penang.

For any enquiries please email:

Dr Kevin Wallace or The Habitat Foundation

Dates: 26 November – 3 December 2019

Application deadline: 15 October 2019

Location: The Habitat, Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve, Penang, Malaysia

Click here to download the course flyer


Each application will be assessed on its own merits. Successful applicants will be contacted in order to help them to prepare for the course. Kindly note that only a handful of scholarships have been set aside by SEARRP for exceptional applicants that would be unable to attend without financial support.