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Ministry for the Environment

The Ministry for the Environment is a government department that aims to promote environmental stewardship for a prosperous New Zealand. The Ministry maintains a number of datasets, maps and environmental classifications which can help inform the earthquake recovery by providing information on pre-earthquake environments and baseline information.

Land Cover Database

The Land Cover database is a digital map of the land cover of New Zealand. It provides information on changes in land use and land cover over time, and can be used with other geographic information.

Description of key content

The dataset contains information on New Zealand land cover in 1996 and in 2001.

Frequency and scope

Approximately five yearly, currently contains information on 1996 and 2001.

Geographic coverage

The geographic coverage is national, including the Chatham Islands.

Methods of collection

Images are collected via satellite image classification.

Potential weaknesses

Target classification accuracy is 90%. The accuracy assessments are not able to confirm the actual accuracy.

Access and links

The Land Cover database is available from Koordinates.

For more information on the Land Cover database see the Ministry for the Environment's Land Cover web page.

Land Use Map

The Land Use map is a part of the Land Use and Carbon Analysis System (LUCAS), with the Land Use map being used to assess carbon stocks for Kyoto Protocol reporting.

Description of key content

The dataset contains information on New Zealand land use in 1990 and 2008. The land use information is contained in a spatial vector data layer.

Frequency and scope

Approximately five yearly, currently contains information on 1990 (the reference year) and 2008. The next mapping year will be 2012.

Geographic coverage

The geographic coverage is national.

Methods of collection

Images are collected from satellite images, with a minimum mapping unit of 1 ha.

Potential weaknesses

There are a limited number of classes suitable for international comparison.

Access and links

2008 Land Use Map on the Ministry for the Environment website.

The Land Use map is also available from Koordinates.

For more information on the Land Use map see the Ministry for the Environment's Land Use web page.

Land Environments New Zealand

Land Environments New Zealand (LENZ) is used to define and map bio-geographic land environments across New Zealand. LENZ is used primarily for environmental management.

Description of key content

LENZ maps New Zealand's landscapes at four different levels using 20 (Level I), 100 (Level II), 200 (Level III) or 500 (Level IV) environments.

LENZ contains information on

  • mean annual water deficit
  • water balance
  • mean annual solar radiation
  • chemical limitations to plant growth
  • mean annual temperature
  • parent material hardness
  • slope
  • soil age
  • soil drainage.

The land use information is contained in spatial vector data layers. The layers include classification data layers and another layer of the underlying environmental variables.

Frequency and scope

One off project completed in late 2002.

Geographic coverage

The geographic coverage is national, including offshore islands.

Potential weaknesses

A potential weakness is that information is from derived and modelled data.

Access and links

The LENZ classification layers are available from Koordinates.

The underlying environmental variables layer is available from LandCare Research's LENZ web page.

For more information on LENZ see the Ministry for the Environment's LENZ web page.

River Environment Classification

The River Environment Classification (REC) is used for national reporting on the state of freshwater in New Zealand. It is a spatial framework for water information, organising information on the physical characteristics of rivers, and it is used primarily for environmental management.

Description of key content

The River Environment classification contains information on river networks, catchments and watersheds.

The information is contained in spatial vector data layers.

Frequency and scope

One off project.

Geographic coverage

The geographic coverage is national.

Potential weaknesses

A weakness is that the REC is a synthetic river network derived from a hydrologically correct Digital Elevation Model (DEM). This means that the REC is not topographically correct as it does not faithfully follow the physical path of the rivers. The Digital Elevation Model (DEM) used is also low-resolution.

Access and links

The REC river networks, catchments and watersheds layers are available from Koordinates.

For more information on LENZ see the Ministry for the Environment's REC web page.

Marine Environment Classification

The Marine Environment Classification (MEC) is used to define natural bio-geographic marine environments, and it was designed for marine management purposes. The MEC was developed by NIWA and the Ministry for the Environment with support from the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Fisheries.

Description of key content

MEC maps New Zealand's marine environments into different number of classes. A 5-level class map divides the marine landscape into five different classes based on environmental or biological similarity, not geographic location. The marine environment is available at 5-level, 10-level, 20-level and 40-level classes.

MEC contains information on

  • depth
  • solar radiation
  • sea surface temperature
  • orbital velocity
  • tidal current
  • sediment type
  • slope
  • seabed curvature
  • freshwater fraction.

The information is contained in spatial vector data layers.

Frequency and scope

One off project.

Geographic coverage

The geographic coverage is the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Potential weaknesses

A potential weakness is that information is from derived and modelled data.

Access and links

For more information on MEC see NIWA's MEC web page.

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