Welcome to the New Zealand Land Cover Database development programme. Here, we will post information about the programme and its aims,  status updates, background information about how the mapping is being done, the reasons behind technical decisions made, and future plans.The LCDB programme is led by Landcare Research, who will deliver two new more editions of New Zealand's Land Cover Database  - LCDB-3 and LCDB-4, along with an associated research program. Major collaborators are MfE, DOC, MAF, the NZ Fire Service and regional councils

What is the Land Cover Database (LCDB)?

LCDB contains detailed information on categories of land cover and their boundaries and is a record of land cover changes over time. It is a digital map of the surface of New Zealand derived from satellite imagery. The first two editions, LCDB-1 and LCDB-2, show the state of New Zealand’s land cover in 1996-1997 and in 2000-2001 respectively. These digital maps underpin much of the work of central, regional and local government, industry and research institutions. The information is used for land, water, and biodiversity management, pest control and monitoring,  wildfire threat and risk analysis, and environmental monitoring and reporting.

See About LCDB for more information on the various versions and their specifications.

What is the new LCDB programme for?

Landcare Research has been charged with responsibility of delivering the next two cycles of the LCDB while also undertaking research to improve the accuracy, efficiency and utility of land cover information. The two applied products are;

  • LCDB-3, derived from the 2007-2008 LUCAS satellite imagery.
  • LCDB-4, also using LUCAS imagery, this time from 2011-2012.

The intention is that further updates will follow, depending on future priorities, including decisions around future LUCAS updates.

Allied research will answer a number of other fundamental research questions relating to land cover classification, and developing better ways to collect this information more accurately and efficiently.

The programme addresses key information gaps identified in Statistics New Zealand's draft National Environmental Domain Plan and by the former Foundation for Research, Science and Technology’s Environment Sector Advisory Group.  The programme will answer key environmental research questions, such as:

How and where is land cover in New Zealand changing through time?

What are the major characteristics of this change?

Who's involved?

The model for this project is a “public research consortium” with the aim of multiple government agencies (central and local) contributing to the research, both with financial contributions and with significant in-kind contributions, such as datasets and ground-truthing activities.  

Landcare Research will:

  • Deliver updates of the New Zealand Land Cover Database in conjunction with the LUCAS programme’s land use map delivery cycles
  • Institute a programme of research to address key questions, such as improving the differentiation of land covers by automated methods from satellite imagery

Ministry for the Environment will:

  • Provide Landcare Research with the satellite and aerial imagery, acquired through the LUCAS programme for LCDB-3 and LCDB-4.
  • Provide Landcare Research with satellite and aerial imagery, associated with the LCDB1 and LCDB2 mapping programmes

It is proposed that (subject to agreement) regional councils:

  • Provide Landcare Research with access to aerial photographs
  • Assist with ground truthing.

It is also proposed that a number of other agencies (e.g. DoC, MAF) provide information and assistance (such as aerial images and ground truthing) as appropriate.

It is expected that the Crown will retain ownership of the deliverables which will be made available to the public to access, copy and re-use without restriction. This is in accordance with the NZ Government Open Access and Licensing framework.