Impacts of region-wide urban development on biodiversity in strategic environmental assessment

Author(s): Balfors B, Mörtberg U, Gontier M, Brokking P


In urbanising regions, urban sprawl and infrastructure cause profound alterations of natural habitats. Initial decisions on urban expansion and major infrastructure investments are often made on a strategic level where the long-term development of a region is determined. For these types of decisions a strategic environmental assessment can be prepared. However, the lack of an adequate conceptual and methodological framework can pose a major problem for the prediction of impacts, not least concerning biodiversity. This paper will highlight the need for effective methods for biodiversity analysis at landscape and regional levels, with reference to the long-term urban development of the Stockholm and Mälaren regions. Problems of habitat loss, fragmentation and other impacts related to large-scale urbanisation and infrastructure developments will be addressed. GIS-based methods focusing on predictive ecological modelling will be discussed in a scenario context. The implementation of such methodologies in the strategic environmental assessment process would allow a better integration of biodiversity in planning and decision-making, further promoting a sustainable planning system.

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