Funding source: Australian Research Council Discovery Project

A critical challenge for scientists and land managers is striking the balance between urban development, biodiversity conservation, and the benefits that the natural environment provides to humans.

UQ researchers are looking at ways urban landscape structures could be managed to meet this challenge and create more sustainable cities.

Focusing on the river city of Brisbane, their project is investigating how land use and coverage drive the provision of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

With cutting-edge remote sensing, ecological field and social data, the team is exploring how biodiversity and ecosystem services vary across the city. These services include carbon storage, urban heat regulation, green-space recreation, and flood regulation.

The project is determining the relative importance of site scale and landscape scale processes that will allow biodiversity and ecosystem services to flourish. This information will help develop models for predicting how future landscape changes will affect the availability of ecosystem services in the future.

These novel, spatially-explicit conservation tools would allow local land managers, stakeholders and policy-makers to plan for landscapes that achieve biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service objectives.

Importantly, the models will address two gaps in current conservation planning approaches: a better understanding of local ecosystem service drivers; and how the location of different landscape uses and land covers determines the kind of benefits that biodiverse ecosystems can provide.