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NZ Research Wins Major International Awards

1 August 2002

NZ Research Wins Major International Awards

Landcare Research and the Ministry for the Environment have won two major international awards for a radically different classification of New Zealand's land environments. The New Zealand entry was selected over more than 1,000 others as winner of the Best Overall Award and the Best Analytical Application at a conference attended by more than 12,000 geographic information systems (GIS) professionals from 132 countries.

Land Environments of New Zealand (LENZ) was developed by Landcare Research scientists with assistance and funding from the Ministry for the Environment. It will provide a consistent ecological framework for conservation and resource management in New Zealand and was developed specifically to support the Ministry's reporting on the state of New Zealand's environment.

The awards for this radically different GIS application were presented at the recent International ESRI User Group Conference in San Diego, California.

"These are very significant awards," says Fraser Morgan, GIS Analyst at Landcare Research. "ESRI is the world's leading provider of GIS software, and consequently the quality of the other submissions was very high."

"LENZ has a wide range of potential applications. For example, it can be used to measure the loss of native ecosystems, to prioritise international biosecurity screening and predict pest distributions within New Zealand," says Kirsty Johnston, Senior Policy Analyst at the Ministry for the Environment.

"LENZ can also assist in identifying optimal growing locations for horticulture and forestry, and mapping threats to public health, such as identifying likely habitats of the invasive Southern Saltmarsh mosquito, which can spread the Ross River virus."

LENZ works by classifying and mapping ecosystems across New Zealand's landscape. It was generated by combining 15 different climate, landform and soils variables that were chosen for their roles in driving geographic variation in biological patterns.

In other words, LENZ identifies areas that have similar ecosystem character and maps these areas across New Zealand. LENZ can also be used at a wide range of scales - from local to regional to national. The project will culminate in the release of two publications and the associated spatial data later this year. The first publication is an atlas type book describing the underlying concepts, processes and classification.

The second is a more detailed and technically orientated book focusing on the methods used to develop the classification, along with detailed descriptions of the classification units.

The Waitaki Basin looking south. Here the LENZ classification is draped over a digital elevation surface. The West Coast is on the right (green) with the Southern Alps running vertically and the Tekapo, Pukaki, Ohau and Benmore hydro electric lakes.

The basic level of LENZ, 20 environments spread throughout the country

More information about LENZ can be found at:

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