Exploring the Role of Surveyors in Shaping Canberra’s Urban Landscape

Surveyors in Canberra use a variety of techniques to determine the true shape of land. They provide data for civil engineers who plan infrastructure, including roads, bridges and buildings.

These professionals are essential for projects that require a planning permit. They also help with zoning and overlays, such as those that protect vegetation, heritage or wildlife.

The National Capital Authority (NCA)

The National Capital Authority (NCA) performs a range of functions in respect of protecting the Commonwealth’s interest in planning and managing Canberra as Australia’s capital.

It prepares and administers a National Capital Plan that serves the interests of the Australian Government, the nation and its people. It shapes the future of the capital; manages and enhances the nationally significant parts of Canberra; and fosters awareness of Canberra as Australia’s national capital.

For the first 75 years of Canberra’s development, the design plan was based on the vision of the Americans Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin that placed it as a ‘city in the landscape’ nestled amongst forested hills and astride the impounded waterway of the Molonglo River. The two land and water axes were aligned with four local mountain summits and crossed the city to link nationally significant building sites in conspicuous positions against the forested landscape as a backdrop.

Since self-government in 1988, planning has been governed increasingly by the global orthodox canon of increasing urban densification and high-rise buildings without regard for the significance of the context and setting of Canberra. The result is low priority of heritage considerations leading to loss of heritage precincts and downplaying of the historic landscape ethos that encapsulates Canberra’s unique character and symbolic meaning.


Canberra is known for its expansive parklands, lakes and urban forests. Treed spaces are a key feature of the city’s design and provide many benefits including cooling, shade and landscape amenity.

But the trees’ unique character is threatened by the accelerating pace of urban development and climatic change. As a result, the canopy cover in Canberra’s older suburbs is declining and new suburban areas are growing without extensive tree coverage.

In this paper, we explore the role of traversing in shaping Canberra’s urban landscape and how it can contribute to re-wilding and climate responsive urban planning and governance practices for cities as coupled human-natural systems.

In this study, we conducted interviews with experts from a range of disciplines that work with or have an interest in green spaces in Canberra. These experts reflected on the value of Canberra’s green spaces and discussed the Ecosystem Services (ESS) they provide.


Architects, engineers and planners depend on surveying data to design and construct buildings. They use topographic and 3D laser scanning surveys to understand the land.

They also use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to present spatial information visually as maps, reports and charts. They overlay aerial and satellite images with GIS data to plan roads, utilities, and landscaping projects.

When planning a large infrastructure project, they need to be aware of the environment and how it affects construction. These measurements help them make informed decisions and ensure that the construction process goes smoothly.

Offsetting is a form of accounting that nullifies financial entries with equal but opposite entries to cancel out the original entry. It is a key principle of accounting and a powerful tool to limit or eliminate liabilities.


Surveyors use the latest technology to take measurements of land, and provide data that architects, engineers and planners need for planning and building. The data is then used to plan roads, bridges and utilities.

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries, which can help prevent and resolve disputes. They also use their measuring equipment to create maps and reports that show changes in property lines.

They work outdoors and often cover long distances when conducting their surveys. This can be physically demanding, so employers often look for candidates with excellent physical stamina and problem-solving skills.

The job is generally full-time with a government or private organisation. During the course of a project, surveyors may travel across different parts of the country and stay away from home for an extended period.