Land use planning to support climate change adaptation in threatened plant communities

Anu Vijayan*, Joseph M. Maina, Rochelle Lawson, Hsing-Chung Chang, Linda J. Beaumont, Peter J. Davies

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Among the many causes of habitat loss, urbanization coupled with climate change has produced some of the greatest local extinction rates and has led to the loss of many native species. Managing native vegetation in a rapidly expanding urban setting requires land management strategies that are cognizant of these impacts and how species and communities may adapt to a future climate. Here, we demonstrate how identifying climate refugia for threatened vegetation communities in an urban matrix can be used to support management decisions by local government authorities under the dual pressures of urban expansion and climate change. This research was focused on a local government area in New South Wales, Australia, that is undergoing significant residential, commercial and agricultural expansion resulting in the transition of native forest to other more intensive land-uses. Our results indicate that the key drivers of change from native vegetation to urban and agriculture classes were population density and the proximity to urban areas. We found two of the most cleared vegetation community types are physically restricted to land owned or managed by council, suggesting their long-term ecological viability is uncertain under a warming climate. We propose that land use planning decisions must recognize the compounding spatial and temporal pressures of urban development, land clearing and climate change, and how current policy responses, such as biodiversity offsetting, can respond positively to habitat shifts in order to secure the longevity of important ecological communities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number113533
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Environmental Management
    Early online date16 Aug 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021


    • Land-use change
    • Climate change
    • Climate refugia
    • Threatened plant communities
    • Land change modeler


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