Ecological Context of Planning

PLAN 504
Jordi Honey-Roses
2014W Term 1
9:30 to 12:30
WMAX 240
This Course is NOT currently offered


Our goal is to understand the ecological context of planning and how ecological principles may inform planning decisions. By the end of the course, students should:

(1) understand key concepts in ecology and environmental science relevant to planners, and

(2) be able to apply ecological principles to real planning problems.

This course seeks to prepare planners to engage effectively with biologists, natural resource managers, park managers, and other professionals from the natural sciences. Students with a natural science background will benefit from reflecting on the potential and limitations of drawing on ecological knowledge to address real planning problems.


Planners and public officials currently confront multiple ecological problems, ranging from how to prepare neighborhoods for the threat of wildfires, to how to manage coastal areas to ensure safe and healthy beaches. However in order to manage ecosystems effectively we must understand the science that dictates ecosystem dynamics. Insightful solutions to ecological planning problems will require planners to bring together ecological knowledge and our understanding of planning procedures, social priorities and economic constraints.

In this course we will review key concepts in ecological and environmental planning. Topics will include biogeochemical cycles; species distribution and diversity; adaptation and natural selection; migrations; food webs; disturbance and succession; invasive species; urban ecology; the ecological footprint; ecological economics; ecosystem services; energy and water policy; and landscape ecology. Each of these topics will be studied within a planning context.

One day a week will be reserved for case-based discussion. The cases will present us with a specific ecological planning problem in which there is no obvious solution. However in most instances, a firm understanding of the ecological dynamics may suggest alternative courses of action.

UBC has numerous research, pedagogical and health resources available to students.  These include The Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT), the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the Writing Centre, Student Health Services and Student Counselling Services.  Please make use of these resources or contact the instructor if you have any questions. Students new to UBC are especially encouraged to become familiar with the broad spectrum of resources that UBC provides.

Additional information on the format of the midterm will be provided.

The readings for the course have been printed by the Course Materials Office and will be available at the UBC bookstore. Students should bring the assigned readings with them to class for use in discussion.

In addition to participating in the class discussions, students are expected to complete a midterm exam, four written assignments and several quizzes.


We will meet once a week for three hours. Classes will be a mixture of lectures and case-based discussions. On days reserved for case discussions, we will seek to apply the ecological or environmental principles discussed in lecture to a real-world planning problem. Cases are organized around a problem or a decision that needs to be made, and students will be expected to present a recommendation and defend their position.

Please inform the course instructor as soon as possible if you have special needs and require accommodation of any kind.  Please visit for more information on campus resources.

The University is an environment that fosters learning and the free exchange of ideas while maintaining responsibility and integrity.  Violations of academic integrity include but are not limited to plagiarism, cheating, dishonesty, fabrication of information, submitting previously completed work and misusing or destroying school property.  Any material or ideas obtained from digital or hard copy sources must be appropriately and fully referenced.  Students are expected to uphold all the standards articulated in UBC's academic integrity site. If the instructor finds evidence of a violation of academic integrity the case will be investigated by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and, where appropriate, action will be taken. Disciplinary action may lead to a failing grade or suspension from the University.