Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design

Creating urban environments that are good for people and good for nature

Biodiversity sensitive urban design is a protocol for urban design that aims to create suburbs that are a net benefit to native species and ecosystems through the provision of essential habitat and food resources.

It represents a new approach to urban biodiversity conservation by seeking to achieve biodiversity benefits on site, in contrast to the standard offsetting approach, which reduces the opportunity for urban residents to engage with nature and, at the same time, delivers questionable ecological outcomes.

Artists impression of biodiversity sensitive urban design in Fishermans Bend, Melbourne, Australia. This image, depicting a large, biodiverse green open space was produced in consultation with Mauro Baracco, Catherine Horwill and Jonathan Ware (RMIT University School of Architecture and Design).

What are the benefits?

Biodiversity sensitive urban design aims to protect native species and ecosystems in the places where people live and work.  Urban greening associated with biodiversity sensitive urban design also provides a range of proven benefits to individuals, communities and cities, including:

  • Cooling of urban areas
  • Air & water purification
  • A range of human health and wellbeing benefits including improved mental and cardiovascular health, reduced crime and better social cohesion and improved cognitive development in children
  • Increased workplace productivity
FB view - Courtyard

Biodiversity sensitive urban design is good for nature and good for people

How can I implement biodiversity sensitive urban design?

Biodiversty sensitive urban design proceeds in 6 steps, outlined and available for download here.

It can be implemented at a range of scales, and by a range of people, from individual home owners wanting to reduce their impact on nature, through to local and regional authorities responsible for the planning and development of major towns and cities.

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Biodiversity sensitive urban design at the house scale


BSUD Practioners’ Guide

BSUD for the Striped legless lizard, Delma impar, using population viability analysis

BSUD for native grasslands using expert elicitation


This research was undertaken by Dr Georgia Garrard and Associate Professor Sarah Bekessy at RMIT University with support from The Myer Foundation.


For further information, please contact Georgia ( or Sarah (