Major in the

Landscape Ecosystem Management

The major in Landscape Management will give you an understanding of the living and social systems required to plan and manage a range of outdoor environments – from urban parks to wilderness areas.

You will explore the physical and social components of these systems – the flora, fauna, soils, water and people, and the complex relationships between them.

Throughout the major, understanding of ecosystems is explored in the context of management issues and strategies, helping to develop your skills for professional practice in landscape management.


Through its emphasis on solution-based learning and practical fieldwork, the Landscape Management major leads to employment in the landscape, horticulture or natural resource management industries.

Subjects you could take in this major

  • This subject will include the natural history of Australia from the Cretaceous to the present, and the influence of Australian Aborigines and Europeans; Australian environments, climatic zones, major biomes; terrestrial biota: diversity, endemism and biology of Australian plants, relictual rainforests, sclerophylly, adaptation to fire, diversity, endemism and biology of unique habitats, low nutrients and aridity; diversity, endemism and biology of vertebrate fauna including amphibians and marsupials; marine environments, algae, invertebrates, reefs, mangrove communities, inland waterbodies; and ecology, conservation, and management of Australian ecosystems.

  • Natural and built environments and their resources have been the source of conflicting claims over rights of access, ownership and use. These contests have in turn led to the creation of a wide range of approaches to regulate such claims. In this subject students will be introduced to the ecological and economic theories and practices that relate to the use and management of natural resources and built environments and to the approaches governments use to resolve the conflicts that arise.
    Topics will include:

    • An introduction to the similarities and differences between the ecological and economic paradigms that affect the environment
    • Understanding the need for government intervention
    • An explanation of Public Choice theory
    • The development of policies and instruments (laws, regulations, agreements, spending on education programs and market-based instruments) and institutions for effective policy implementation
    • Case studies on the built environment, land and water, forests, marine environments and global warming will be used to assess the strengths and weaknesses of different governance models and their application
  • The subject introduces students to natural environments, and the elements and systems that shape the natural world. A critical understanding of these elements and systems is fundamental, not only to the sustainable management of natural environments, but also to nearly all aspects of human endeavor therein: including biodiversity and recreation management, primary production (agriculture and forestry), urban and regional land-use planning, environmental design (architecture and engineering), and local through to global environmental policy. In this subject, the student draws upon case studies and concepts from a broad range of disciplines to explore key components and processes of natural environments, and learns practical skills in landscape assessment for sustainable management and design. Major themes explored include plate tectonics; rocks and minerals; landscape processes and soil formation; weather, climate and climate change; microclimate; the water cycle and catchment hydrology; landscape ecology and the distribution, properties and functioning of different ecosystems. Practical skills in landscape assessment and interpretation are emphasised, as well as an appreciation of the effect of scale and temporal change in the examination of natural environments.

  • Productive Environments will look at living and ecosystem resources harnessed for producing goods and services to meet human needs. Questions such as the following will be addressed, to name but a few: How are living resources managed for the production of goods and services, such as construction and design materials, food, fibres and water? What systems are available for meeting such needs? What are the consequences of production and consumption on environments managed for immaterial needs such as recreation or biodiversity? How can human impacts on ecosystems be monitored and managed?

    The subject will approach these questions by building an understanding of ecosystem function and ecosystem management implications and will introduce tools and issues relevant to environments managed for purposes such as agricultural food production, forestry for timber production, bioenergy production, delivering of ecosystem services and biodiversity, reserves and parks for recreational use etc. It will explain how such understanding feeds into planning and management tools used in impact assessment, ecosystem management and regional planning, land and landscape management, landscape architecture applications, assessment of environmental impacts of human activities, and implementation in regional planning.

    The subject will deliver the skills and understanding in a mix of lectures delivering firm scientific principles, tutorials and project work using practical examples and case studies, and excursions to study productive environment issues first hand.

  • This subject explores how environments shape us and we humans reshape the environment. It examines human attitudes to, impacts on and interactions with the environments in which we live by considering ‘natural', transformed and built environments as sites of production and consumption, imagining and contest, in different parts of the globe. The subject considers the material relationship between the natural and built environments by exploring issues of resource use. Human demands for water, energy, food, fibres and minerals, will be examined in relation to the technologies and practices used to meet those needs, and the resulting creation of waste and pollution and impacts on climate and a range of ecosystems and species. These issues and processes will be presented and considered using thematic, geographically varied, historic and contemporary examples. The subject will operate at three ‘scales' including: ‘natural' landscapes and their ecosystems; cities and the urban environment; buildings.

  • To understand why cities have become the most common living environment today, this subject will be built around three questions: what is ‘the urban' and why have cities formed and expanded?; how do we analyse the environments of contemporary cities?; and how might we create better urban futures? Looking to the past, special attention will be paid to cities of different times and places (the early Middle East, Industrial Revolution Europe and North America, rapidly urbanising contemporary China, for example). We will consider the cities' design, political and economic reasons for their development and form, and their dependence on local physical environments and resources. Analytically, approaches to city morphology, socio-economic differentiation and environmental auditing will be investigated and evaluated, linking these matters to contemporary globalisation. Student experience of different local urban environments within Melbourne will form the basis of some tutorial and assessment tasks, raising questions about how better urban outcomes could be planned for the future.

  • AIMS

    Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a blend of computer mapping and database technologies used to store, manage, analyse and display geographic data. This subject introduces students to this exciting technology and provides them with the skills and knowledge to solve everyday problems facing our built and natural environments. Students who complete this subject will have developed knowledge that is immediately applicable in the workplace. The subject also lays the foundations for more advanced studies in the field of geomatics and spatial information systems.


    Application areas of GIS, and related data sets and operations, are presented. In parallel, students train in computer labs the use of GIS for data integration, analysis and mapping, inspired by the applications presented.

  • This subject explores designed vegetation in urban landscapes. The content includes an introduction to plant types and morphology, planting design, information sources for plants, landscape design themes and plant use, recognition and identification of representative plants; plant selection methodologies and case studies of designed landscape and plant use.

  • This subject introduces students to four major ecological questions that can be addressed at the levels of individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems. Making use of aquatic and terrestrial examples, topics include organisms and the physical environment, life histories, population growth and regulation, managing populations, theoretical models, species interactions, community change and energy flows. The practical component will emphasise approaches to the collection and analysis of ecological data, and how to interpret and write scientific papers.

  • This subject explores a range of contemporary environmental problems in Australia and internationally. It uses case studies to understand the following: the history and emergence of the issues; the key actors who engage with and manage these issues; and the political dynamics and strategies for governance. The subject examines the multiple dimensions (scientific, socio-cultural, economic, political) of environmental issues and the forms of knowledge and types of power that construct and mediate people’s relationships with the environment. Students should become familiar with the factors that lead to environmental conflicts and the mechanisms used to contain or resolve them, and be able to interpret them in the context of broader questions relating to environmental governance and sustainability.

  • Forests cover 30% of the earth’s land surface. They provide basic sustenance for an estimated 1.6 billion people, store a large proportion of the world's biodiversity and provide raw material for a widely traded and used commodity and ecosystem services such as clean water, carbon sequestration and soil protection. Forests are also a major source of creative and artistic inspiration. Sustainable management and use of the world’s forests will be a critical component of a sustainable future for the human beings.

    This subject introduces the world’s forests from social, historical, environmental and economic perspectives. It will describe the evolutionary development of forests, classification of forest types, factors determining forest distribution, how people have interacted with forests during human history and the many values and benefits of the forest including forest products and trade and environmental services, aesthetic functions and forests in literature and art. Impacts of global change, policies for sustainable forest management, the role of plantations and the use of forest products in architecture and construction.

  • Through lectures, tutorials, excursions and a hands-on nursery and practical program, this subject will address critical stages in the successful establishment of vegetation, including: seed quality (genetic variability, integrity and development); plant growth and propagation techniques (seed germination and vegetative); production requirements and strategies (incl. media and materials and plant quality); plant establishment issues and methods (site preparation, urban soils, planting, natural regeneration and direct seeding), and urban plant management at different scales.

  • This subject explores psychological and social dimensions of environmental sustainability and landscape and ecosystem management. The subject examines the ways humans experience, interact and behave in the physical environment. This is done by exploring psycho-social dimensions of human-environment interactions examining frameworks for understanding landscape perception and environmentally significant behaviour. Topics include: psychological bases for environmental values, aesthetics and preference management and design implications of how humans experience a range of environments; understanding environmental concern and environmentally significant action and strategies for encouraging environmentally sustainable behaviours.

  • This subject provides an introduction to plant structure, function, diversity and ecology and explores how these interact with landscape, climate, and production systems. While the subject deals with plant basics, it focuses on knowledge required for managing vegetation.

    Topics include:

    • How plants develop (architecture, adaptation, diversity) and how the plant structures contribute to reproduction (plant life-cycles)
    • Plants and energy (leaves as the primary light harvesting organ that supplies energy for most living things)
    • Plants and water (roots, transpiration, responding to water stress and salinity)
    • Plants and their interactions with other species, including humans, and the landscapes they shape

    Students taking BIOL10004 Biology of Cells and Organisms (BSc) as a Breadth subject will be exempt from this subject.

  • This subject will identify the importance of soil and water in the landscape and as key components of natural and production systems. A basic knowledge of soil properties and behaviour will be applied to understanding the cycling of water and nutrients, the appropriate use of fertilisers, irrigation and drainage and soil management practices designed to maintain or improve the condition of soil and water resources. The origin of soil variation in the landscape and codification of soil information through classification will be introduced.

  • Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in an increasingly urbanised world. This subject will introduce students to urban ecology and landscape ecology concepts and illustrate how they can be applied to plan and design more ecologically sustainable human landscapes. Topics include the concept of scale in ecology, land transformation and habitat fragmentation, the structure and components of landscapes, patterns and processes along urban-rural gradients, the impacts of urbanisation on biodiversity and strategies to mitigate them.

  • This subject introduces students to bushfires in Australia. The effects of fuel, weather and climate on the nature and periodicity of bushfires; the history of fire in Australia; the importance of fire to aboriginal culture and life; the effect bushfires have on fauna, flora, soils and hydrology; the importance of bushfire as an ecological process; the social and economic impact of bushfires; the role and impacts planned fire in the landscape; bushfire smoke and greenhouse gas production; design and planning of houses and towns in bushfire-prone environments.

  • At a global scale forests are managed by societies in a wide range of ways for goods and services that reflect the needs of people and their aspirations for the environment. Forests are viewed and valued by society in many different ways, often in competition with each other, adding significant challenges to those that are entrusted to manage them. Forest Systems explores the complexity of managing the forests of Australia and around the world through case studies and real world scenarios that will help students develop a strong appreciation of the challenges and opportunities presented to those looking after forests and the stakeholders who value them. Starting with gaining an understanding of what a forest is, how it is valued and by whom, as well as how it grows, the complexity of its management is explored through the themes of water, fire, carbon, biodiversity, conservation, recreation and climate change. Field trips to explore first hand challenges faced by forest managers as well as interviews with industry partners will bring a real life context to the learning and build problem solving and decision making skills through practice. Field investigations culminate in two day overnight excursion to the Creswick campus where students will work on a major project exploring a local forest issue and make recommendations on how to proceed.

  • This capstone subject takes students through the process of analysing a practical natural resource system (a management issue or site development) and writing a management plan. In groups, students will draw upon diverse frameworks they have learnt in other parts of their degree to analyse the issue or site and then consider sustainable pathways for it. Teaching in the subject will focus on guiding students through the analysis process. Topics may include conceptualising site analysis, collection of data, integration of data of different kinds, evaluation and presentation of management plans.
    The subject will be structured around a project in which students will work in teams to assess and plan management approaches for problems associated with an urban or rural landscape. The subject will allow students to explore real problems under the guidance of academic staff and industry representatives. The project will be structured to emphasize ecological, social, spatial, temporal and economic interactions.

  • This subject provides a detailed knowledge of vegetation structure and natural values of Victorian plant communities and their assessment, including environmental limiting factors, threats due to land use, development and fragmentation, and management issues related to environmental impact assessment and conservation of native vegetation. The subject will be based around short excursions to examine different vegetation types in the Melbourne region, and a series of special lectures by scientists, managers and consultants from both the government and private sectors. Topics will include:

    • ecology and natural history of Victorian plant communities;

    • environmental impacts and vegetation assessment;

    • conservation and management issues (e.g. revegetation, rare species, faunal habitat, weed invasions);

    • biodiversity legislation and government agencies;

    • consulting services and client focus.