Cristina Estima Ramalho

Dr, Dr

  • The University of Western Australia (M090), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


I am a Research Fellow at the UWA School of Biological Sciences, and I work in the fields of urban ecology, urban sustainability, social-ecological research, interdisciplinary research, environmental justice, and conservation planning. I am motivated to intersect ecological theory with planning, social and cultural frameworks to achieve research outcomes that are useful for land use and water planning and management, biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, and human wellbeing. I tend to use a spatially-explicit approach to all my work, as it is such a useful foundation and viewpoint for ecological, environmental and social enquiry.

Between 2016 and 2021, I was a research fellow with the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub of National Environmental Science Program. From 2018 to the end of the Hub, I was Project Leader of the Urban Greening for Biodiversity and Liveability Project. My work is inter-disciplinary and focuses on how we can better plan, design and manage urban environments to make these more liveable, sustainable, and ethical places. I am particularly interested in:

  • Interdisciplinary and multi-knowledge approaches for the planning, management and design of cities and urban green spaces
  • Human-Nature connection in the places where people live and work, and which is so critical to people's response to (and stewardship of) their environment 
  • Aligning Western Science and First Nations Knowledge for better land use and water planning and management
  • Biodiversity conservation in urban and other human landscapes

Prior to 2016, I worked for three years at the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. The common denominator to the several projects I worked on was the use of spatial ecology frameworks and tools to address specific ecological questions. Projects included spatial conservation prioritization, species distribution models to understand impacts of future climate change and to support phylogeographic inferences, and development of topo-climatic spatial surfaces using ibutton technology.

In my PhD (2012), I studied the effects of fragmentation on the remnant Banksia woodland plant communities of the Perth Metropolitan Area. There and then started my discovery journey and love affair for the south-western Australian flora and landscapes, and their unique evolutionary and human history.

Prior to coming to Australia and after completion of a Biology degree at the University of Lisbon, I worked in a Portuguese environmental consultancy company as a botanist and GIS ecologist (2004-2007), and at the Technical University of Lisbon as a Research Associate in a project using geostatistical modelling to map the atmospheric deposition of heavy metals using lichens and mosses as bio-monitors (2003-2004).

Current projects

I am currently wrapping up the writing of papers from several NESP CAUL projects I led or co-led. The Noongar Water Knowledge Project has continued past the life of the Hub and is expected to be finished by end of 2022:  

  • Noongar Water Knowledge in the Djarlgarro Beeliar catchment – Implications for land use and water planning
  • Development of a interdisciplinary framework to support the planning and design of urban green spaces
  • Biodiversity and human wellbeing considerations in the planning and management of the urban forest of a global biodiversity hotspot
  • Actions for urban biodiversity conservation in Australian capital cities (led by Dr Caragh Threlfall at University of Sydney)
  • The social and ecological values of street verges (led by Dr Natasha Pauli at UWA)

Industrial relevance

Tackling complex (urban) sustainability challenges requires an interdisciplinary approach, willingness to bridge across disciplines and knowledge systems, and to work with and learn from local communities, environmental practitioners and leaders. My work fits in this space, and has relevance for Local Government Areas, State Government and non-government organizations.  


My current projects involve a strong element of engagment with the Noongar community of the Perth Area, the environmental managers community of several LGAs, State Government Departments and Perth NRM. 

In 2020, I was part of a multi-disciplinary team that was finalist of the Design competition for the Harry Butler Institute [NMBW Architecture Studio, Officer Woods Architects, Baracco + Wright Architects, REALMStudios (Landscape Architect), Architecture Associates & S-I Projects with: Kingsley Dickson, Daniel Jan Martin, Sohan Ariel Hayes, Zoe Atkinson, Peter Breen, Leah Beesley, Cristina Ramalho] (

Funding overview

  • Noongar Water Knowledge in the Djarlgarro Beeliar catchment – Implications for land-use and water planning; 2020-2022; $271.5K [UWA; Water Corporation; Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions; Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage; Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Department of Communities; City of Canning; Perth NRM; Urbaqua)

Teaching overview

  • Co-coordinator of the unit ENVT4421 Principles of Environmental Management (School of Agriculture and Environment) (since 2022)
  • Invited Lecturer of the unit LACH4423 Landscape and Urban Ecology (School of Design) (since 2016)
  • Invited Lecturer and Tutor of the units LACH3030 Plants and Landscape Systems, ENVT2250 Ecology, and PLNT2204 Plant Diversity and Evolution, while doing my PhD studies (prior to 2012)

On my annual lecture to LACH4423, I focus on concepts of ecological theory, as well as aspects related with the biogeography, natural and human history of SW Australia that are relevant to urban planning and design in Perth. George's Seddon legacy in this space is also revisited.

I welcome PhD and MSc students from different fields (environmental sciences, landscape architecture, urban design, and social sciences) that would like to develop a project in topics related with my research. Recent students include:

  • Rocio Almuna, PhD (2021-2024) – Promoting landscapes of coexistence for humans and raptors with an interdisciplinary scope: a comparative study from the Global South (supervision Peter Speldewinde, Stephen Hopper, Cristina E. Ramalho, José Tomás Ibarra)
  • Harrison McGrath, MSc (2021/2022) - How the urban forest influences residents’ place attachment (supervision Cristina E. Ramalho, Carmen Lawrence, Erik Veneklaas)
  • Matthew Coyle, MSc (2020/2021) - Characterizing the habitat of road trauma ‘hotspots’ for threatened black cockatoos in Metropolitan Perth (supervision Peter Mawson, Michael Craig, Cristina E. Ramalho) (completed)


  • English (proficient)
  • Portuguese (mother language)
  • Spanish (very good)
  • French (some)

Education/Academic qualification

Ecology, PhD


Geographic Information Systems, MSc


Biology, Honours


External positions

Spatial Information Management Officer, WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions DBCA


GIS Botanist, NEMUS Gestão e Requalificação Ambiental, Lda


Industry keywords

  • Environmental
  • Built Environment
  • Education

Research expertise keywords

  • Socio-ecological research
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Human-Nature connection
  • Urban ecology
  • Urban greening
  • Urban nature
  • Conservation planning
  • Spatial ecology
  • GIS and spatial analysis
  • Sustainability
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Global biodiversity hotspot
  • Climate change adaptation


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