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’. Sarah leads the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science research group.
- Threatened species management
- Environmental decision analysis
- Urban ecology
- Population and landscape modelling
- Education for sustainability
- The role of science in environmental policy
- Sarah has recently commenced an ARC Future Fellowship investigating 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 has an Australian Research Council research project titled Planning for biodiversity in the urban fringe: multiple actors, multiple actions and multiple uncertainties. This project builds on recent advancements in ecological modelling and mathematical optimisation to develop and test tools to facilitate transparent decisions based on optimal trade-offs between competing values. The main objective is to develop and encourage a more strategic approach to planning for biodiversity in urban environments. The project is part of a larger collaboration based at RMIT University consisting of six separate, but mutually supportive research projects that investigate the potential for significantly improved ecological, economic and social sustainability outcomes in development at the urban fringe.
- Sarah recently completed an Australian Research Council research project titled
. This project investigated methods for incorporating sustainability issues in non-traditional disciplines. Achieving change for sustainability requires both individuals with the capacity to implement sustainability principles in their professions and models for profound organisational change. Using universities as a case study, this research developed and implemented an organisational change model for up-scaling and embedding sustainability as standard practice. Integrating systems analysis and organisational learning, the research illustrated methods for overcoming barriers to the adoption of sustainability principles. The project addresses the acknowledged demand for graduates with sustainability expertise and resulted in practical strategies for organisational change for sustainability.
- Sarah was recently involved in a landmark study of peri-urban regions in two Australian states, Victoria and Queensland. This project, titled
, investigated the nature and extent of contemporary peri urban regions in Australia, and aimed to identify future patterns of socio-economic, environmental change in peri-urban landscapes. The project was funded by Land and Water Australia and was a joint research project between RMIT and Griffith University.
- PhD, University of Melbourne
- BSc (Hons), University of Queensland
2013 ARC Future Fellowship
2005 Brian Robinson Fellowship for Environmental Sustainability
2005 RMIT research award
2005 RMIT collaborative research prize
2004 RMIT research award
2004 Nominated for teaching award, RMIT
2001 John S. Turner award for Botany postgraduate students
1998–2000 Australian Postgraduate Award
1999 Australian Bicentennial Award for postgraduate research
- Kirk, H.,Soanes, K.,Amati, M.,Bekessy, S.,Harrison, L.,Parris, K.,Ramalho, C.,Van de Ree, R.,Threlfall, C. (2023). Ecological connectivity as a planning tool for the conservation of wildlife in cities In: MethodsX, 10, 1 - 12
- Selinske, M.,Bekessy, S.,Geary, W.,Faulkner, R.,Hames, F.,Fletcher, C.,Squires, Z.,Garrard, G. (2022). Projecting biodiversity benefits of conservation behavior-change programs In: Conservation Biology, 36, 1 - 13
- Kusmanoff, A.,McIntosh, R.,Boag, S.,Bekessy, S. (2022). “Bins on boats”, a behaviourally-based intervention to curb marine pollution in Bass Strait, Australia In: Conservation Science and Practice, 4, 1 - 5
- Gregg, E.,Kidd, L.,Bekessy, S.,Martin, J.,Robinson, J.,Garrard, G. (2022). Ethical considerations for conservation messaging research and practice In: People and Nature, 4, 1098 - 1112
- Giles-Corti, B.,Vernez-Moudon, A.,Lowe, M.,Foster, S.,Kleeman, A.,Bekessy, S.,Higgs, C.,Arundel, J., et al, . (2022). What next? Expanding our view of city planning and global health, and implementing and monitoring evidence-informed policy In: The Lancet Global Health, 10, 919 - 926
- Gutierrez Gonzalez, M.,Hernandez Santin, C.,Bekessy, S.,Gordon, A. (2022). Contextual challenges for implementing strategic environmental assessment in the Global South: insights from a case study in Mexico In: Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 41, 139 - 153
- Croeser, T.,Garrard, G.,Sharma, R.,Ossola, A.,Bekessy, S. (2021). Choosing the right nature-based solutions to meet diverse urban challenges In: Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 65, 1 - 11
- Kirk, H.,Garrard, G.,Croeser, T.,Backstrom, A.,Berthon, K.,Furlong, C.,Hurley, J.,Thomas, F.,Webb, A.,Bekessy, S. (2021). Building biodiversity into the urban fabric: A case study in applying Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design (BSUD) In: Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 62, 1 - 14
- Kalliolevo, H.,Gordon, A.,Sharma, R.,Bull, J.,Bekessy, S. (2021). Biodiversity offsetting can relocate nature away from people: An empirical case study in Western Australia In: Conservation Science and Practice, 3, 1 - 13
- Gregg, E.,Kusmanoff, A.,Garrard, G.,Kidd, L.,Bekessy, S. (2021). Biodiversity conservation cannot afford COVID-19 communication bungles In: Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 36, 879 - 882
- Mapping Organisational Biodiversity Footprints. Funded by: Yarra Valley Water Contract from (2022 to 2024)
- Re-imagining Environments for Connection and Engagement: Testing Actions for Social Prescribing in Natural Spaces (RECETAS). Funded by: NHMRC European Union (2020 onwards) from (2021 to 2026)
- Beyond green facades: integrating ecology and architecture. Funded by: ARC Discovery Projects 2021 from (2021 to 2023)
- (RECETAS) (EU) Re-imagining Environments for Connection and Engagement: Testing Actions for Social Prescribing in Natural Spaces (Administered by: FUNDACION PRIVADA INSTITUTO DE SALUD GLOBAL BARCELONA (ISGLOBAL). Funded by: Horizon Europe 2021 onwards Research and Innovation Actions from (2021 to 2026)
- Private Land Conservation in a Dynamically Changing and Risky World (Administered by Uni Queensland). Funded by: ARC Linkage Project Grants 2021 from (2021 to 2024)
16 PhD Completions5 PhD Current Supervisions