Professor Sarah Bekessy

Sarah Bekessy has been teaching in Sustainability and Urban Planning at RMIT University since 2004.

Sarah is interested in the intersection between science and policy in environmental management and is currently involved in an interdisciplinary range of research and consulting projects, including an ARC Future Fellowship titled ‘Socio-ecological models for environmental decision making’.

She leads a research theme under the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions that seeks to develop and test tools to support transparent decision-making for environmental management and she is a node leader in a National Environment Research Program for Environmental Decisions.

Sarah has funding from the Myer Foundation to undertake a project titled Reimagining the Suburb: Planning for biodiversity in the urban fringe. This project aims to improve prospects for grassland conservation within housing developments, and investigate urban development scenarios that mitigate impacts on existing grasslands. We are working with a range of sectors to ensure issues such as human health, housing affordability and transport are considered. Considering biodiversity in this context will make a stronger case for appropriate urban and peri-urban development and will target urban designers and developers.

Sarah also leads the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science research group.

Read more about Sarah.

Expert commentary on...

Threatened species management, Environmental decision analysis, Urban ecology, Population and landscape modelling, Education for sustainability, The role of science in environmental policy.

Related Content


Onsets not offsets for real biodiversity gains


This project will make conceptual and methodological advancements required to develop a working approach for onsets. Case studies in urban development and agriculture will highlight how the approach work s in practice.

Sustainable, biodiverse mid-rise development for Fishermans Bend


Creating sustainable cities that are good for people and good for nature.

Improved Urban Systems for Liveability


This project investigates how major cities function and the effects of their land-use, housing and infrastructure systems on the humans that live in them.

Evaluating environment policy that has immediate costs but long-term gains

2016 (ongoing)

Evaluating environment policy that has immediate costs but long-term gains.

The Little Things that Run the City


How do Melbourne’s green spaces support insect biodiversity and promote ecosystem health?

News & Blog


Where the wild things are: how nature might respond as coronavirus keeps humans indoors

08 April 2020

COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on humanity, and this is nothing to be celebrated. But as Australians stay at home and our streets fall quiet, let’s consider how wildlife might respond.


Want to help save wildlife after the fires? You can do it in your own backyard

24 February 2020

Here we provide various practical tips on things people can do in their own backyards and neighbourhoods to help some of the species hit hard by the fires.


How should I vote if I care about preventing the extinction of nature?

17 May 2019

Some voters heading to the polls this weekend may be casting their ballot with biodiversity in mind, after a major UN report released last week highlighted the global extinction crisis facing more than a million species.


The small patch of bush over your back fence might be key to a species’ survival

13 December 2018

It may not look like a pristine expanse of Amazon rainforest, but the patch of bush at the end of the street could be one of the only places on the planet that has a particular species of endangered animal or plant.


Small habitats crucial to species survival: study

10 December 2018

Local patches of bushland play a much bigger role in conserving biodiversity and supporting the survival of endangered species than previously thought, according to new research.


Here’s how to design cities where people and nature can both flourish

24 October 2018

Aside from benefits for people, cities are often hotspots for threatened species and are justifiable locations for serious investment in nature conservation for its own sake.


Ask not what nature can do for you

09 August 2018

In our recent paper, we ponder whether the increasingly prevalent trend for framing nature in terms of ecosystem services is actually helping to build public engagement in conservation.


August 2018 edition of The Urban Observer out now

09 August 2018

With Australia’s population reaching 25 million this month, the liveability of our cities has become critically important for our national prosperity and sustainability.


Let’s get this straight, habitat loss is the number-one threat to Australia’s species

18 October 2017

Earlier this month, Australia’s outgoing Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews told ABC radio that land clearing is not the biggest threat to Australia’s wildlife. His claim caused a stir among Australia’s biodiversity scientists and conservation professionals, who have plenty of evidence to the contrary.


Getting smarter about city lights is good for us and nature too

21 December 2016

A network of street lighting links these “islands of illumination”. The effects of this can, in some large cities, result in “sky glow” that interferes with star visibility at distances of more than 300 kilometres.


RMIT Vietnam awarded European Union research funds

12 December 2016

RMIT Europe has helped to secure RMIT Vietnam as a partner in a €13.4 million research project as part of the EU Horizon 2020 (H2020) research and innovation funding scheme.


Urban researchers nominated for Banksia Sustainability Award

15 November 2016

Research on biodiversity conservation in cities by two urban researchers has been recognised by the Banksia Foundation for its excellence in sustainability practice.


Climate Change Mitigation & Adaption in Suburban Melbourne

This briefing has been written to inform policy makers and the wider community on opportunities to strengthen climate change mitigation and adaptation in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.

View Publication

Messaging matters: A systematic review of the conservation messaging literature

Lindall R.Kidd, Dr Georgia Garrard, Professor Sarah Bekessy, Morena Milla, Adrian Camilleri, Fiona Fidler, Kelly Fielding, Dr Ascelin Gordon, Emily Gregg, Dr Alex Kusmanoff, Winnifred Louis, Katie Moon, Jenny Robinson, Dr Matthew Selinske, Danielle Shanahan, Vanessa Adams
View Publication

Nature Based Solutions for Urban Liveability Critical Policy Brief

This briefing draws upon the expertise of RMIT’s urban greening, biodiversity and liveability research community to inform policy makers and the wider community on the critical opportunities nature-based solutions offer in enhancing liveability.

View Publication

Achieving the promise of integration in social-ecological research: a review and prospectus

Angela M. Guerrero , Nathan J. Bennett , Kerrie A. Wilson, Neil Carter , Morena Mills , Christopher D. Ives , Dr Matthew Selinske, Cecilia Larrosa, Professor Sarah Bekessy, Fraser A. Januchowski-Hartley, Henry Travers , Carina A. Wyborn , Ana Nuno
View Publication

The seven lamps of planning for biodiversity in the city

Kirsten M. Parris, Associate Professor Marco Amati, Professor Sarah Bekessy, Danielle Dagenais, Ole Fryd, Amy K. Hahse, Dominique Hes, Samantha J. Imberger, Stephen J. Livesley, Adrian J. Marshall, Jonathan R. Rhodes, Caragh G. Threlfall
View Publication