Dr Robyn Simcock

PhD (Soil Science; Land restoration)

Ecologist / Soil Scientist

Landcare Research


Robyn’s research focuses on water sensitive / low impact design - specifically optimising the design, construction and performance of bioretention devices for New Zealand urban stormwater conditions using native plants. Bioretention devices include raingardens, swales, filter strips and green or living roofs; all use plants and substrate to detain and filter stormwater to reduce impacts on lakes and streams of erosive and contaminated runoff from roads, roofs and paved surfaces. She likes these devices to look great, enhance streetscapes and bring New Zealand’s plants and animals into the urban environment.

The work includes testing alternative substrates, plants and mulches; evaluating design and construction techniques; and monitoring their performance - often done in situ through partnerships with stormwater engineers, property owners and local authorities. Robyn has helped construct living roofs in Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown and Canterbury and Otago.

As houses grow larger and sections grow relatively smaller, the resulting increase in impervious areas means the volume and speed of stormwater entering streams is increased. More environmentally sensitive and cost-effective options are needed to minimise impacts of this stormwater runoff.

Related work also sees Robyn consulting in rehabilitation of disturbed sites – open cast mines, roads, and other places where large volumes of earth and all vegetation have been removed.

Further information and contact details


Emerging threats in urban ecosystems: A horizon scanning exerciseFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2015, 13, 553–560
Download or view online
4 Living roofs in 3 locations: Does configuration affect runoff mitigation?Journal of Hydrology, 490, 11-20, 2013
Moisture measurements as performance criteria for extensive living roof substratesJournal of Environmental Engineering, 138, 8 (August 2012)
Elevated ecosystems - the potential of living roofs as urban ecosystems in New Zealand5th Annual National Greening Cities Conference, Sydney, 9-12 November 2011, Conference Proceedings, 2012
Urban stormwater treatment using bioretentionJournal of Hydrology, 397(3–4), 167–174, 2011
Design and installatin of living roofsAuckland Council technical report TR 20110/7
Landscape and ecology values within stormwater management2009
Download or view online
Urban greening manualLandcare Research Sciences Series No. 35 2009
Download or view online