Online Collections

Landcare Research is the custodian of a number of nationally significant biological and resource collections and databases. The Informatics team provides technological support for these collections by means of data storage, modelling, visualisation, making them accessible through the Internet, etc., always in close collaboration with the people responsible for collection, the specimens and the data.

Landcare Research has five online biosystematics collections:

National Vegetation Survey Databank

National Vegetation Survey

The National Vegetation Survey Databank (NVS – ‘Nivs’) is a physical archive and computer databank containing records from approximately 77 000 vegetation survey plots, including data from over 19 000 permanent plots. NVS provides a unique record, spanning more than 50 years, of indigenous and exotic plants in New Zealand’s terrestrial ecosystems, from Northland to Stewart Island and the Kermadec and Chatham islands. A broad range of habitats are covered, with special emphasis on indigenous forests and grasslands.

The Informatics team have had a long association with NVS, and have recently developed new electronic data management capabilities for the databank. This includes metadata management, standalone data capture and analysis tools, searchable web delivery of the repository content, and robust structured database and data management systems to ensure long-term management and quality assurance of each dataset. The team are also currently leading an international effort (including researchers from USA, Germany, Spain, and New Zealand) to develop an international schema for exchanging plot-based vegetation data – Veg-X. This effort will greatly improve the ability for dataset collectors, consumers, and managers to share and combine their data for new and often synthetic analysis when addressing regional-, national-, and global-scale questions. This project has been endorsed by the IAVS Ecoinformatics Working Group and TDWG Observations and Specimen Records Interest Group.

Land Resource Inventory

The New Zealand Land Resource Inventory (NZLRI) is a national database of physical land resource information. It comprises two sets of data compiled using stereo aerial photography, published and unpublished reference material, and extensive fieldwork:

  1. An inventory of five physical factors (rock type, soil, slope, present type and severity of erosion, and vegetation). A ‘homogeneous unit area’ approach is used to record the five physical factors simultaneously to a level of detail appropriate for presentation at a scale of 1:50 000.
  2. A Land Use Capability (LUC) rating of the ability of each polygon to sustain agricultural production, based on an assessment of the inventory factors above, climate, the effects of past land use, and the potential for erosion. The NZLRI covers the country in 11 regions, each with a separate LUC classification.

For the entire list of online collections and databases, see Landcare Research Databases


Satellite data

The Remote Sensing/GIS group are an agent for most of the international remote sensing satellite operators and can order data to be taken for you or retrieved from international archives. Tell us what you need and we will respond with option details and prices. Some satellite services permit us to hold data in our own archive so we can directly pass items on to you. Most of these data are of New Zealand but there are some from just about everywhere as well. See satellite info for more information.

The LRIS Portal

The LRIS (Land Resource Information System) Portal ( is an evolving online service that provides a mechanism to access land resource data and related data sets for use by geospatial data users throughout New Zealand and internationally. The initial focus has been on data supply: working with Koordinates Limited we have released a simple data supply tool that allows rapid selection and downloading of environmental data for use in GIS and other applications that can handle geospatial data for mapping, querying and spatial analysis. At present there are over 50 data layers available including: NZLRI (all 30 attributes and as dissolved single-attribute layers for rock type, soil, vegetation, land use class, and erosion); Fundamental Soil Layers (FSL) – 16 attributes and 16 dissolved layers of single-factor maps; LENZ underlying climate and soil layers; NZ Soil scapes; soil maps, e.g. Hamilton City; 25-m digital elevation model (DEM) and NZ empirical erosion model (NZEEM).

Designed to make the data usable as well as accessible, each data layer comes with metadata, supporting documents and easy-to-understand data-use licences. Users can select from a variety of data formats and, using a map-based interface, sub-set the geographic extent of the data so they only download data for the area they are interested in. This means users no longer need to store large datasets themselves; they just take the bits they need when they need them.

New Zealand Soils Portal

The Soils Portal ( is one of a growing number of specialist-subject portals being released by Landcare Research, These portals are tightly integrated with an online mapping portal so that you can easily switch between descriptive information about soils to maps of their distribution and back to explanations of what is on the maps. Each portal augments and complements the others and collectively they provide a rich and authoritative resource about New Zealands natural heritage.

The Soils Portal not only provides access to nationally significant soils databases held by Landcare Research, such as National Soils Database, Fundamental Soil Layers, the New Zealand Land Resource Inventory and Digital Soil Surveys but also a wealth of explanatory information about current and historical soil naming schemes used in New Zealand.


Coming soon…

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