The Environment Ministry of New Zealand has created a $2.5 million electronic map using satellite data, which shows 43 different uses to which New Zealand land is currently being put. The land-cover database, LCD2, is the second constructed by the ministry and was built using images sourced from a Landsat satellite in 2001 and 2002. It is available on CD-Rom along with the first land-cover database which was based on satellite data obtained in 1996.Together, the two databases will allow policy makers and researchers to easily view changes in New Zealand land use for the first time. The land-cover databases are supplied as GIS files, so customers can overlay the maps with their own spatial data.
The maps have a resolution of 15 metres square per pixel, with areas greater than one hectare assigned their own land use code. The 43 land uses which have been mapped include categories for different farming types,various forest, scrub and grasslands classifications and a code for urban areas. The Environment Ministry will use the database to assess the impact of land use changes on water quality and quantity. It should help the Conservation Department assess threats to biodiversity and monitor the fragmentation of indigenous vegetation. Councils are expected to use the database to assess the speed and extent of urban sprawl and it is expected to help the Fire Service map fire risks. The Agriculture and Forestry Ministry, which contributed to the project, will use the database to monitor changes in the use of agricultural land.