Landcover science

We monitor and report on a range of landcover-based information.

Land cover mapping image

The NSW Government has mapped, monitored and reported on landcover change since 2008.

Data collection

Our landcover data collections and imagery help us measure, monitor and compare the type, extent and condition of vegetation and land use across NSW.

This information:

  • improves our understanding of landcover and landcover change
  • provides the science to measure changes to our natural resources and biodiversity
  • provides a consistent way to describe and map landcover and native vegetation
  • supports effective decision making about land use
  • contributes to legislative, environmental and land management decision making about land use
  • helps identify impacts on resources, biodiversity and ecosystems
  • enables statewide environmental reporting.

Monitoring and reporting

We monitor and report on landcover change due to clearing of native vegetation and fire.

Vegetation change

We use satellite imagery combined with comprehensive human interpretation and validation to detect and report vegetation change using the Statewide Landcover and Tree Study (SLATS) method.

A Statewide Landcover and Tree Study (SLATS) report is produced each year to report on woody vegetation change.

Each SLATS report contains clearing trends from 1988 and provides data on clearing by landcover class (agriculture, forestry and infrastructure) and across administrative and environmental boundaries. Methods for monitoring and reporting regrowth and replantings are being tested. Results will be reported when these methods are finalised.

Reports and data

This reporting focuses on landcover change on rural regulated land that is defined under Part 5A of the Local Land Services Act 2013 as identified within the Native Vegetation Regulatory (NVR) Map.

Each year we report on detected woody and non woody native vegetation loss that has occurred since 25 August 2017. Information on areas of landcover change is provided by authorising Act, NVR Map category and landcover class.

Reports and data

Fire and vegetation change

We report on fire extent and severity each year. Fire is not considered a permanent loss of native vegetation and there are no legislative reporting requirements.

Vegetation loss due to fire was reported as part of our Statewide Landcover and Tree Study reporting until 2018. In 2021 we started publishing annual reports on fire extent and severity across the landscape using fire extent and severity mapping.

NSW Land Use Program

Our land use program provides information on what land use activities are occurring and where across the state.

Collection of geospatial data

Remotely sensed imagery is routinely collected by the Department of Planning and Environment and used to map vegetation clearing. This data is spatially explicit and can be used with other datasets to identify activity on individual lots. Please read the Privacy collection notice (PDF 50KB) for more information.