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.

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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

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

It takes more than words and ambition: here’s why your city isn’t a lush, green oasis yet

The idea of transforming cities from concrete jungles to urban forests is a popular one, and there have been some truly inspiring, exemplar projects in recent years. But has your city actually turned into a lush oasis yet? No, neither has ours.

Nature as medicine: can a dose of the outdoors cure loneliness?

Can a dose of nature a day keep the doctor away? A new RMIT project is exploring the benefits of prescribing nature in Australia, Europe and Latin America to reduce loneliness and improve mental health.

How can we better prepare suburban Melbourne for climate change?

Climate change presents critical challenges for future development, sustainability and resilience across Melbourne. Here, our experts offer insights on how we can better prepare our outer suburbs.

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

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

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

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

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Small habitats crucial to species survival: study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What effect will closet Trump voters have on the US Election?

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump recently claimed “phony polling” is suppressing his vote and predicted the outcome of the US election will be “Brexit times five”.

EcoCheck: Victoria’s flower-strewn western plains could be swamped by development

When Europeans first saw Victoria’s native grasslands in the 1830s, they were struck by the vast beauty of the landscape, as well as its productive potential.

Researchers on journey to new discoveries with $2.3m ARC grants

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A transformative mission for prioritising nature in Australian cities

Niki Frantzeskaki, Cathy Oke, Guy Barnett, Professor Sarah Bekessy, Judy Bush, James Fitzsimons, Maria Ignatieva, Dave Kendal, Jonathan Kingsley, Dr Laura Mumaw, Alessandro Ossola


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Projecting biodiversity benefits of conservation behavior-change programs

Dr Matthew Selinske, Professor Sarah Bekessy, William L Geary , Richard Faulkner , Fern Hames , Charlotte Fletcher , Zoe E Squires , Georgia E Garrard

Conservation Biology

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Understanding Australia’s national feral cat control effort

Dr Georgia Garrard, Alexander M. Kusmanoff, Richard Faulkner, Chathuri L. Samarasekara, Dr Ascelin Gordon, Alice Johnstone, Isaac R. Peterson, Dr Nooshin Torabi, Yan Wang, Professor Sarah Bekessy

Wildlife Research

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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, Dr Emily Gregg, Dr Alex Kusmanoff, Winnifred Louis, Katie Moon, Jenny Robinson, Dr Matthew Selinske, Danielle Shanahan, Vanessa Adams
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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.

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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
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The seven lamps of planning for biodiversity in the city

Kirsten M. Parris, 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
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Taming a Wicked Problem: Resolving Controversies in Biodiversity Offsetting

Martine Maron, Christopher D. Ives, Heini Kujala, Joseph W. Bull, Fleur J. F. Maseyk, Professor Sarah Bekessy, Dr Ascelin Gordon, James E.M. Watson, Pia E. Lentini, Philip Gibbons, Hugh P. Possingham, Richard J. Hobbs, David A. Keith, Brendan a. Wintle, Megan C. Evans
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