Building biodiversity into the urban fabric: A case study in applying Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design

Date: 10, May, 2021
Author(s):   Kirk, H., Garrard, G.E., Croeser, T., Backstrom, A., Berthon, K., Furlong, C., Hurley, J., Thomas, F., Webb, A., Bekessy, S.A.
Publisher: Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

Biodiversity within cities is fundamental for human health and well-being, and delivers a wide range of critical ecosystem services. However, biodiversity is often viewed as an afterthought or final addition once an urban development nears completion. As such, provisions for biodiversity are typically tokenistic and do not achieve the experience of everyday nature that people need. Considering biodiversity requirements at the start of an urban development allows for strategic, intentional design with biodiversity enhancement in mind. Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design (BSUD) is a protocol that aims to create urban areas that deliver on-site benefit to native species and ecosystems through the provision of essential habitat and food resources. Here we present a case study demonstrating how BSUD methods can be used to (a) encourage successful outcomes for nature, (b) improve the aesthetics and liveability of the urban form, and (c) engage stakeholders in a process that supports other aspects of urban design including park and streetscape design. Fishermans Bend (Melbourne) is the largest urban renewal project in Australia, and one of the first of this scale to explicitly include biodiversity targets. We outline the methods used to co-create biodiversity objectives with diverse stakeholders, and how these, combined with a quantitative analysis of their potential biodiversity impact, were translated into clear design and planning recommendations. We critically reflect on the success of this method for 1) communicating and facilitating provisions for biodiversity across different stakeholders and 2) providing clear messaging around biodiversity across different planning disciplines.