Landcover monitoring and reporting

Science Division in the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment generates products which monitor and report on statewide annual landcover change.

The NSW Government is committed to promoting a thriving, sustainable and resilient NSW. Fundamental to effective natural resource management is an understanding of landscape scale change.

To see the latest results from our landcover reporting, visit 2018 landcover change reporting.

Scientists analysing satellite data


The NSW State Government has monitored and reported on landcover change since 2008. Up until new legislation in 2017, landcover change focused primarily on woody vegetation with data back-captured from 1988. The native vegetation legislation reforms have resulted in the implementation of monitoring and reporting of both woody and non woody (grasses, small shrubs and groundcover) vegetation change on land regulated under the Local Land Services Act (LLS Act) from 25 August 2017.

Monitoring and reporting on landcover change provides a foundational and scientific basis for measuring environmental, social and economic impacts to the natural resources and biodiversity of NSW. 

How is vegetation change detected?

Vegetation change is detected using satellite imagery. The method is a combination of automated change detection, followed by comprehensive human interpretation and validation. The resulting change areas are assigned a landcover class which provides an indication of the purpose for which the vegetation was cleared. These classes include:

  • Agriculture e.g. grassland, cropping, horticulture, farm infrastructure*
  • Infrastructure e.g. residential, commercial, mining, public infrastructure
  • Forestry e.g. native and plantation harvesting, establishment, thinning, forestry infrastructure

The assignment of these classes is primarily based on visual interpretation of the context of the clearing with reference to supporting data sources.

Classified areas of detected change are subject to a full peer review and quality assurance process by expert image interpreters. This ensures a consistent level of accuracy and reliability across the state.

* When change due to farm infrastructure is initially detected it is classed within agriculture. However, when processing data for reporting it is separated into the infrastructure group to understand these changes as part of the wider infrastructure class.

How is vegetation change reported?

There are currently two products for reporting vegetation change. 

Part 1 - Woody Vegetation Change Statewide (SLATS) Reporting 

Woody vegetation change since 1988 is reported using the Statewide Landcover and Tree Study (SLATS) method. This method records rates of woody vegetation loss for agriculture, forestry and infrastructure activities across all of NSW. It also reports detected losses in woody vegetation resulting from fires. The report contains clearing trends from 1988 and provides data on clearing by landcover class and across administrative and environmental boundaries. Methods for the monitoring and reporting of regrowth and re-plantings are being tested and results will be reported when the methods are finalised.

Part 2  - Landcover Change on Rural Regulated Land Reporting

This report focuses on landcover change specifically on Rural Regulated Land that is defined under Part 5A of the LLS Act as identified within the Native Vegetation Regulatory Map. The 2018 report documents both woody and non woody (grasses, small shrubs and groundcover) vegetation loss since 25 August 2017. Information on areas of landcover change is provided by authorising Act, NVR Map category and landcover class.

Reports and data

Summary Woody Vegetation Change Statewide (SLATS) 2018 (993KB PDF)

Summary Landcover Change Rural Regulated Land 2018 (305KB PDF)

Results Woody Vegetation Change Statewide (SLATS) 2018 (XLSX 758KB)

Results Landcover Change Rural Regulated Land 2018 (XLSX 127KB)

Woody Vegetation Change SLATS Historical Archive (pre 2018)

Read more about 2018 Landcover Change Reporting.

Spatial Data products

Woody Vegetation Change (SLATS)

When the data is released it is made available through the SEED Portal.