Planning for biodiversity in the urban fringe

Biodiversity near and within urban areas brings many benefits but its maintenance involves complex trade-offs between competing land uses. NERP ED researchers recently demonstrated how these trade-offs can be better described to facilitate more transparent, efficient and democratically derived urban planning. They used reserve design tools in a novel way to identify priority development sites. The approach is based on a synthesis of ecological, social and economic data. Then trade-offs between biodiversity conservation and other key development objectives were quantified. Other key development objectives included transport planning, flood risk and food production. And they demonstrated how all this can be done using a case study of changes in land use across the City of Wyndham, a local government west of Melbourne.

The process involved gathering data, identifying and weighting key values according to stakeholder preference, and modelling to produce visual representations of possible scenarios that have been optimised according to the chosen values.

See Decision Point #68 for the complete story

A map of the study area showing its biodiversity value (a). (b) shows areas representing the lowest ranked 10% of the landscape in terms of biodiversity value. If biodiversity was your only consideration when it came to development then the areas in pink are places you would develop.

A map of the study area showing its biodiversity value (a). (b) shows areas representing the lowest
ranked 10% of the landscape in terms of biodiversity value. If biodiversity was your only consideration when it came to development then the areas in pink are places you would develop.


Bekessy SA, M White, A Gordon, A Moilanen, MA McCarthy & BA Wintle (2012). Transparent planning for biodiversity and development in the urban fringe. Landscape and Urban Planning 108: 140-149.

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