Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research


Alison Fairbrass

Biodiversity and the built environment

Maximising building design for biodiversity, University College London

Alison Fairbrass


I am interested in making cities great places to be for both humans and biodiversity. Integrating biodiversity into the built environment is an increasingly important element of sustainable design. However, current biodiversity approaches taken by industry, planners and designers are often tokenistic, contributing little to overall ecological value and resilience. To address this issue, a four-year partnership study between University College London and the Bat Conservation Trust was launched in September 2012. The research aims to overcome barriers to integrating biodiversity into the built environment by developing simple tools that measure the ecological value of urban green infrastructure.

My research is focused on how cities can be designed and managed better for biodiversity. To do this, I am developing technology that uses the soundscape of the city to monitor urban wildlife. I am also working with Intel, ARUP, BCT and the London Wildlife Trust to deploy the world's first real-time urban biodiversity monitoring system at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2017. 


I hold a Masters in Conservation Science from Imperial College London and a BSc in Environmental Management from the University of Birmingham. I have also worked in the built environment industry with the Green Collar sustainability consultancy advising on BREEAM and ISO14001.


Dr Helena Titheridge (UCL)

Professor Kate Jones (UCL)

Dr Carol Williams (BCT)


UCL CEGE Engineering (July 2016). Keep It Civil - Biodiversity in the City - Listen to  the Podcast on SoundCloud

UCL TV (Nov 2015). Grant Museum otter: Little-known objects in UCL Museums and Collections Watch the video on UCL's YouTube Channel



Fairbrass A, Nuno A, Bunnefeld N, Milner-Gulland EJ (2015) Investigating determinants of compliance with wildlife protection laws: bird persecution in Portugal. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 62(1), 93-101. doi:10.1007/s10344-015-0977-6 URL:

Hale JD, Fairbrass AJ, Matthews TJ, Sadler JP (2015) The ecological impact of city lighting scenarios: exploring gap crossing thresholds for urban bats. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/gcb.12884 URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12884/abstract


Hale JD, Davies G, Fairbrass AJ, Matthews TJ, Rogers CDF, et al. (2013) Mapping Lightscapes: Spatial Patterning of Artificial Lighting in an Urban Landscape. PLoS ONE 8(5): e61460. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061460 URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0061460#pone-0061460-g006


Hale JD, Fairbrass AJ, Matthews TJ, Sadler JP (2012) Habitat Composition and Connectivity Predicts Bat Presence and Activity at Foraging Sites in a Large UK Conurbation. PLoS ONE 7(3): e33300. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033300 URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0033300


Bates AJ, Sadler JP, Fairbrass AJ, Falk SJ, Hale JD, et al. (2011) Changing Bee and Hoverfly Pollinator Assemblages along an Urban-Rural Gradient. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23459. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023459 URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0023459#pone-0023459-g007


Twitter: @AlisonFairbrass

Email: alison.fairbrass.10@ucl.ac.uk

Alison Fairbrass