Land, water and soil

land water tree

Healthy soils and appropriate land use underpin sustainable primary production and contribute to New Zealand’s ability to neutralise greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing demand for urban development or intensified pastoral agriculture is putting pressure on land, water and soils, especially as most of New Zealand’s soils are of low natural fertility. Because of the vastness of the environment and the rapid rate at which it is being changed, it is important to monitor and measure environmental conditions and trends using the most advanced and specialized methods, tools and technologies. Among the most widely used are remote sensing systems. These instruments, mounted on orbiting satellites or aircraft, produce map-like images and gather other non-pictorial data about the environment, including land use, vegetation and water cover, and soil erosion or land degradation. For these data to help environmental management and decision making, they must be available in a timely and organized way. Sophisticated computer-based information systems, such as geographic information systems, have been designed to store, analyse, and map diverse types of digital data in a geographical referenced forma. They have proved essential tools to help develop management strategies for sustainable development and protection of natural resources.