Earth observation data can provide valuable assessments for monitoring the spatial extent of (un)sustainable urban growth of the world’s cities to better inform planning policy in reducing associated economic, social and environmental costs. Western Australia has witnessed rapid economic expansion since the turn of the century founded upon extensive natural resource extraction. Thus, Perth, the state capital of Western Australia, has encountered significant population and urban growth in response to the booming state economy. However, the recent economic slowdown resulted in the largest decrease in natural resource values that Western Australia has ever experienced. Here, we present multi-temporal urban expansion statistics from 1990 to 2015 for Perth, derived from Landsat imagery. Current urban estimates used for future development plans and progress monitoring of infill and density targets are based upon aggregated census data and metrics unrepresentative of actual land cover change, underestimating overall urban area. Earth observation provides a temporally consistent methodology, identifying areal urban area at higher spatial and temporal resolution than current estimates. Our results indicate that the spatial extent of the Perth Metropolitan Region has increased 45% between 1990 and 2015, over 320 km2
. We highlight the applicability of earth observation data in accurately quantifying urban area for sustainable targeted planning practices.
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