Investigating the biggest issues facing our planet

Human actions and human-driven climate change are fundamentally altering the Earth’s surface. As global warming continues and as the world becomes progressively more populated, industrialised and urbanised, the environmental impacts of human activity only increase. 

Environmental Geography examines both the physical processes on Earth as well as human-environment interactions. Drawing from the natural and social sciences, Physical and Environmental Geographers seek to understand the applied and conceptual challenges facing our planet.

Associated schools, institutes & centres


We investigate natural and anthropogenic processes and responses. From ecological degradation to low-lying coastal transformation, urban green infrastructure and sustainable agricultural practices, we seek to understand the human impact on our natural environment. We use long-term records, participatory perspectives to urban and rural development, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing to assess human interactions with the natural world.  

Our research is showcased in high impact, peer-reviewed journals that influence policy—from local to global scales in rural sector economic development, smart urban food systems, environmental protection, conservation of biodiversity and coastal planning.

Competitive advantage

  • We have a global impact, evidenced by UNSW’s favourable 2020 global ranking – #13 in Remote Sensing. Our engagement with the Institute for Global Development at UNSW Sydney and the Australia Africa Universities Network to build research and teaching capacity in African institutions further demonstrates our role in UNSW’s Global 2025 Strategy. 
  • Our many collaborations extend to countries including China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, and South Africa.

Our researchers

 Brian Lees
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