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Urban Forest Ecosystems (FRST30003)

Undergraduate level 3Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 3
Subject codeFRST30003
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject imparts detailed knowledge on the crucial role that urban forests are playing in the development and resilience of sustainable cities around the world, using both local and international case studies. It begins by exploring the unique composition of urban forests, and the multiple social and ecological drivers that shape them in the context of global environmental change. This includes extreme biotic and abiotic stressors, such as changing pests and pathogens, fundamental plant physiology principles of drought, heat, light and pollution tolerance. The benefits that the urban forest generate for fauna habitat and biodiversity, human health and wellbeing, nature connectedness, microclimate cooling, and improved hydrology and water quality are discussed and analysed in detail. Finally, the subject brings these themes together through an urban landscape management lens to explore practical approaches to building our future urban forests through remote sensing, modelling ecosystem service values, and community engagement and participation. A central theme will be planning and managing urban forests for environmental equity, multiple social values and ecological outcomes in a contested urban landscape.

Intended learning outcomes

Students completing this subject should be able to:

  • Describe the composition and structure of an urban forest, and identify important biogeographical, bioclimatic, demographic and cultural factors shaping urban forests globally;
  • Analyse the role of biotic and abiotic stressors on urban tree health and function and how these shape tree selection under past and future urban climates and management regimes;
  • Critically compare and assess the various social, ecological and ecosystem service benefits the urban forest is claimed to provide;
  • Develop a community engagement and urban forest management plan to improve the long-term social and ecological functioning of an urban landscape.

Generic skills

  • Apply ecological principles to help mitigate climate change and society challenges in our cities
  • Assess data quality, then collate, analyse and synthesise quantitative and qualitative data to understand and communicate complex issues
  • Inter-personal skills needed to work effectively in teams, through clear communication, listening, reflection and compromise.
  • Application of a socio-ecological (systems) approach to diagnose and solve complex problems and make management decisions
  • Communication to, and engagement with, multiple stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and levels of scientific understanding

Eligibility and requirements


Completion of at least one of:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
BIOL10001 Biology of Australian Flora & Fauna
Semester 2
BIOL10002 Biomolecules and Cells
Semester 1
BIOL10003 Genes and Environment
Semester 2
BIOL10004 Biology of Cells and Organisms
Semester 1
BIOL10005 Genetics & The Evolution of Life
Semester 2
LARC10001 Natural History
Semester 2
HORT20026 Designing with Plants
Semester 1



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

  • HORT20027 Greening Landscapes

Or 25 points of second year study from across biology, ecology, environmental science, plant sciences and social sciences provides suitable background knowledge. Examples include:

  • BOTA20001 Green Planet: Plants and the Environment
  • BOTA20004 Flora of Victoria
  • ECOL20003 Ecology
  • ENST20001 Human Behaviour and Environment

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


  • Essay
  • 1,000 words
Week 625%
  • In-Class LMS Test
  • 60 minutes
Week 1225%
  • Final Report
  • 2,000 words
During examination period50%

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    CoordinatorStephen Livesley
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours2x 1 hour lectures per week; 4x 2 hour practicals; 6x 2 hour tutorials; 2x 3 hour field trips
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

    Semester 1 contact information

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    There are no specifically prescribed or recommended texts for this subject.

  • Off-campus study

    This subject has a field work component

    2x 3 hour field trips, which are afternoon (or morning) excursions by public transport around the inner suburbs to look at the urban forest and to meet with urban forest managers, policy people etc.

  • Breadth options

    This subject is available as breadth in the following courses:

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 12 June 2019