Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey with an area of around 5750 km(2) and population of around 10.58 M (2000). The population is increasing because of mass immigration. Planned and unplanned housing are increasing while green areas are decreasing in area. Rapid, uncontrolled and illegal urbanization accompanied by insufficient infrastructure has caused degradation of forest. water basin and barren lands in the metropolitan area, especially within the past two decades. The study includes taking administrative planning decisions about the development of urban sustainability in the metropolitan area of Istanbul, producing rationalist solutions to the problems in environmental and natural resources, and conservation of small-scale (historical, tourist, residential, industrial, etc.) specific urban areas. By the help of this study, settlement suitability analyses have been achieved according to the natural thresholds of the area. Additionally, some kinds of formations, which may limit the development of the metropolitan area of Istanbul, such as natural structures, natural structure, ecological corridors and natural hazard areas, have been defined and developed model on the ArcGIS 9.1 platform. In the light of the policies of the European Union about sustainable cities, environmental impact assessments and sustainability policies have been determined for both the existing settlements and sustainable development areas. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.