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Launch Of NZ's Land Cover Database

Snapshots from space of New Zealand form the basis of a database being launched tomorrow by the Minister for the Environment, Marian Hobbs.

The Land Cover Database will be used for reporting on the state of New Zealand's environment.

“This is a milestone for state-of-environment reporting and resource management," Marian Hobbs said. “It’s the first time we have an image from space of New Zealand’s total land cover and this image forms a baseline for measuring change in land use between farming and forestry, urban shift, and for biodiversity, the amount of native forest we have left.”

The Land Cover Database classifies New Zealand into 17 categories of land cover showing, for example, the extent of forests (native and exotic), urban areas, pasture, wetlands, coastal sands and even riparian willows.

“Land cover information can be used in a number of ways, not just for state of environment reporting,” Marian Hobbs said. "For example, land cover data is being used in conjunction with measuring carbon stocks under the climate change convention.

"Many councils are using land cover data to assess areas that may be at risk from a mismatch between land cover and land use – for example pasture on really steep hill country with erosion prone soils. Land cover data is also being used by councils and central government to look at a range of biodiversity management questions.”

The Land Cover Database will help the Ministry for the Environment report on biodiversity indicators such as the change in the extent of indigenous forest cover habitat fragmentation and the extent of freshwater ecosystems, and the land indicator, change in areas susceptible to hill country erosion.

Marian Hobbs said the Land Cover Database is a practical and cost effective tool for resource management. It provides good environmental information. On its own, or in combination with other data, it forms a basis for better resource management decisions and environmental management.

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