NSW Landuse Program

This program delivers science, research and monitoring that informs land management across the State.

The NSW Land Use Program captures how the landscape is being used for agriculture, forestry, nature conservation, infrastructure and urban development.

The program helps us identify, interpret and understand what land use activities are occurring and where. This information is provided to government and private organisations to support effective natural resource management, planning and decision making.

Land use classifications

The Land Use Program uses a spatial dataset that maps land use classes in accordance with the Australian Land Use and Management (ALUM) Classification system. This system was implemented by the Australian Government’s Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program to standardise land use information throughout Australia.

The NSW Land Use Program is incorporated into the national catchment scale land use dataset.

The ALUM Classification system is based on the level of modification to the ‘natural’ landscape. This includes 6 primary classes, each of which include secondary and tertiary classes. Classes are assigned according to the type of land use present.

Go to Australian Land Use and Management Classification Version 8 for more information about the classification method.

Mapping method

Land use products are mapped from aerial and satellite imagery available for NSW.

Mapping is generated from visual interpretation of the imagery by mapping experts. The output identifies patterns and features on the ground associated with land use activities. Datasets including tenure (national parks and State forests), cadastre, road parcels, land zoning, and topographic information help to classify the land use.

Mapping is peer-reviewed and strategic fieldwork is undertaken to ensure accuracy and consistency.


Three products are currently available as vector datasets in ZIP format on our Sharing and Enabling Environmental Data portal. Each product is built from the previous land use product and uses the best imagery and datasets available at the time:

  • NSW Land use 2007 – includes visual interpretation of 2003 imagery and extensive field validation.
  • NSW Land use 2013 – visual interpretation of 2013 imagery, focused on rural and primary production. Urban areas have not been updated and are the same as NSW 2007 land use and are identified in the attribute table.
  • NSW Land use 2017 – visual interpretation of 2017 statewide imagery. Improved detail in the Greater Sydney Region and of horticulture on the east coast.

Potential uses

Land use products can be applied to many situations. For example, they can be used to:

  • monitor change in the landscape
  • assess environmental impact assessments
  • identify biodiversity values and individual ecosystems
  • identify biosecurity risks
  • inform planning and development.