Department Urban Water Management

Benefit: Blue-Green Stormwater Infrastructure Meets Biodiversity in the City

Evaluating the effectiveness of urban blue-green infrastructure to promote biodiversity through habitat creation.

This project contributes to the Blue Green Biodiversity Research Initiative  – an Eawag-WSL collaboration focusing on Biodiversity at the interface of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.


As biodiversity loss continues to accelerate worldwide, cities will need to be redesigned to conserve it. At the same time, they still need to protect growing populations from threats such as flooding and extreme heat. Blue-green stormwater infrastructure (BGI), a spatially distributed system of BGI elements such as urban streams, constructed wetlands, or green roofs, could jointly address these multiple challenges; however, the integrated and quantitative methods needed to resolve these challenges have not been incorporated into the BGI design process, which usually only focuses on urban stormwater management. Benefit is a trans- and inter- disciplinary project that aims to systematically and quantitatively address how individual habitats can be designed as BGI elements that are part of a multifunctional, distributed BGI system. We will combine knowledge from stakeholders and data from semiaquatic and terrestrial organisms to develop a species distribution model for Zurich that evaluates the ability of different types of BGI to enhance species biodiversity. Building on the 30-year history of urban streams and green roofs in Zurich, we will evaluate the current state of BGI effectiveness for biodiversity and then how different future scenarios could change BGI effectiveness over time or lead to possible trade-offs, e.g., mosquitos. Finally, using a targeted sampling campaign, we will evaluate how new information, including through eDNA sampling, can improve predictions of species distributions. We will identify which information is essential to improving model accuracy for future biodiversity assessments. This project develops an innovative approach that integrates engineering and ecological sciences to quantitatively design for BGI that jointly support biodiverse and climate resilient cities.



1. Post-doc: Modeling the ability of blue-green infrastructure to enhance urban biodiversity in a current and future climate

This project will use a species distribution model to evaluate the presence of four groups of semiaquatic and terrestrial organisms (dragonflies, grasshoppers, amphibians, and birds) within different types of BGI in Zurich.

2. PhD: Using eDNA to evaluate the effectiveness of blue-green infrastructure on species diversity in Zurich

This project will use eDNA sampling and laboratory analysis to collect new ecological information within BGI in the city of Zurich. This information will be used to update predictions of the effectiveness of BGI to enhance biodiversity.

3. MSc: Ecological Quality of Daylighted Streams in the City of Zurich 

This project using field sampling to evaluate the ecological quality of the vegetation within urban streams in Zurich.



Dr. Lauren Cook Group leader Tel. +41 58 765 5474 Send Mail

WSL Project Members

Marco Moretti co-PI

Anna Hersperger co-investigator

Nicole Bauer co-investigator