The Our Environment website is a Land Atlas of New Zealand. It provides you with free online maps and reports illustrating various aspects of the land, land resources and landscapes of New Zealand including land use capability, land suitability, vegetation, erosion, ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, grassland, ecosystems services such as water yield, greenhouse gas emissions, nitrate leaching; and protected land. Our Environment eliminates the need for desktop geographic information system software or advanced technical expertise, by processing and presenting data for you.
Our Environment can be used to views maps, query features shown on the maps, and follow links to explanatory information. With a thematic focus, it has been designed to be usable by non-experts, although experts should find it of value too.
Manaaki Whenua is the custodian of a number of nationally significant biological and land resource collections and databases. Increasingly these data are being made available on-line. Our Environment is one such service providing individuals working in regional and central government, business, research and education with quick and easy access to maps of aspects of the New Zealand land environments and environmental data.
The Our Environment website was originally created as part of the government-funded Spatial Information Programme run by Manaaki Whenua. Version 1 was launched in 2011 in response to a growing expectation that government and publicly funded science data should be readily available in authoritative human and machine readable forms.
Our Environment and its sister web sites such as S-map Online and the New Zealand Soils Portal were designed, created and are now operated by the Informatics Team at Manaaki Whenua. We are a team of 30 data researchers, software developers and system engineers with deep experience in managing specialist science data resources and using them for our research and to support natural resource policy and management. We have specialist knowledge of geospatial datasets, data and satellite image analysis, taxonomic data, laboratory data, science information systems and databases, and web-services. You can find out more about the Informatics team on Manaaki Whenua's website.
How to cite Our Environment
If you need to cite the Our Environment website in an article or report, please use the following citation.
Our Environment is built on a software platform made up of open source components including Ubuntu Server, Postgres/GIS, Mapserver, Mapcache, Berkley DB, GeoTools, GDAL, GEOS, Openlayers, Angular, SilverStripe, D3, and Mapfish Print.
Visit the OS Geospatial Foundation for more information about open source geospatial software.
- We have made some changes to the user interface to improve your experience when using Our Environment; this has resulted in layout changes in the mapping application.
- The Vegetation layer has been updated to use the Landcover Database version 5.0.
- Alongside land parcels, you can now display and generate area statistics for Māori land parcels. Māori land parcels are available in the Context Layers of the Layer panel. You need to turn on this layer in order to generate a report.
- We have introduced a new feature, the Tour, which you can use to learn about the features of the Our Environment mapping application. Why not take the tour now.
- Finally, as well as being able to add map layers from third party map services that use the WMTS (Web Map Tile Service) protocol, you can now add map layers from ESRI GIS Servers that support the ESRI REST Map Service API. The feature works with maps that are in the NZTM projection. The ESRI REST API service obviously needs to provide maps that cover or fall entirely within New Zealand. You will see an error message if the map coverage is outside of New Zealand.
You can find some compatible maps at:
- data.govt.nz - when you select a dataset, choose the ESRI REST API option, then paste the URL of the resource into the Add 3rd Party Layers form.
- Living Atlas - when you click on a layer, you will be shown a page with information about the layer. To import this into Our Environment, copy the links that are in the section titled Layers.
- Detailed reports are here! This new feature allows you to view comprehensive environmental information, in the form of a variety of tables, visualisations, and text about a particular location or area. These reports can be saved, printed and shared.
- Reports can now be generated for NZ Territorial Authorities, in addition to LINZ land parcels and Regional Council areas.
- The service has been moved to the cloud - this will reduce issues relating to performance and when we do updates in the future the service should be unavailable for much shorter periods.
- New tool! We are pleased to launch a new tool - the New Zealand Landcover Explorer (beta). This is accessible via the "Maps & Tools" menu at the top of the page. This tool allows you to explore New Zealand's land cover and how it has changed over time (1996-2013), by exploring different versions of the NZ Landcover Database.
- We have made other minor changes to the user interface of the service.
- Changes to the user interface to improve the usability of Our Environment.
- We have removed the requirement to be logged in before you can create maps that can be printed.
- We have implemented new ways to define geographic points or areas of interest for generating statistics about the currently selected science layer. This is in preparation for a forthcoming feature which will allow you to create more comprehensive reports about the land characteristics for a particular location.
- You can now change and view the statistics for a different science layer to the layer that is being shown on the map. For example, your map can be displaying a map of observed erosion severity while you view the statistics for surface rock type for the same area.
- Additional context information is automatically provided about a locality you have selected as your feature of interest including land block information, the territorial authority.
- We have improved how we handle the inclusion of third party map layers. For example, you can set the maximum and minimum zoom levels within which the map layer will appear on the map and whether the layer is added to the base maps, science layers or contexts layers group.
- Our Environment Version 2.0 released! With a completely redesigned, responsive user interface, version 2.0 will now work effortlessly across all device sizes.
- New or updates to the map layers. There is now a new set of science data layers we have organised into a group called "Ecosystems Services".
- Additional reporting functionality allowing querying against LINZ property boundaries, Regional Councils and Territorial Authorities.
- Improved place name searching and addition of a Locate me feature which uses your location (if location is enabled on your device) to zoom the map to your location.
- You can add map layers from third party map services that use the WMTS (Web Map Tile Service) protocol. The feature works best with maps that are in the NZTM projection but we try to re-project on the fly if the maps are in a different projection. The WMTS service obviously needs to provide maps that cover or fall entirely within New Zealand. You will see an error message if the map coverage is outside of New Zealand.
- The site now uses Silverstripe for content management and includes a user registration capability so that we can have a better understanding of who our users are and can better understand and meet their needs. User registration allows you to save locations for later use, create shareable links to the Statistics and download maps for printing.
- The application has been designed and implemented to also work on tablets and mobile devices. However, with the huge number of tablets and mobile devices available we could only test the most common ones and we cannot therefore guarantee that you won't encounter problems, particularly with the layout. Please use the Contact Us form to provide us with feedback on any problems you encounter.
- Provided an alternative way to select the information to view on the map. As an alternative to the original question based issues page, you can now view the data as a content listing. Tick every box that corresponds to something you are interested in and then press the blue button at the top of the screen to view the maps. As well as the layers and classes, the content view lists the source of each data layer and what information can be viewed using the Feature Information facility in the mapping application.
- The feature for visualising the area of each feature (class) in a layer has been moved into a separate pop-up window. We have also added bubble charts as an alternative way to view the area report data.
- It is now possible to visualise the area report data for wetlands.
- Re-enabled area reporting for steepness and direction of slope layers.
- It is now possible to make the mapping window full screen. Use the 'Toggle full screen' button in the top menu bar.
- Updated the provenance page.
- Made the metadata in the Feature Information pop-up windows and the Layer Metadata panel more consistent.
- Added more glossary terms so more of the terms used in the website are now explained.
- The Help pop up window now only appears once in a session.
- Made user interface changes so that Our Environment now gives a better experience for tablet users. (Note: Our Environment can be used on smart phones but there are known usability problems.)
- Fixed problems with long legends in landscape oriented PDFs.
- Fixed IE 10 print issue.
- Fixed problems so that Our Environment now runs properly in Internet Explorer 10.
- Fixed problem with legends in PDF maps when either A3 or A4 landscape is selected.
- Re-designed the way information on slope is displayed in the legend.
- Area now reported for Wetlands.
- Other minor fixes.
- Moved whole service to a more stable production infrastructure and also made changes to speed up the display of the maps.
- Added height information to Feature Information window at scales 1:100,000 and larger.
- Improved the layout of information in Feature Information window.
- Moved the link for downloading or obtaining data for a layer to the top of the metadata panel.
- If data are available from the LRIS portal, clicking on the 'Obtain Data' link results in the LRIS portal opening and defaulting to the same map extent as currently being viewed in Our Environment. This means you can easily download the data for the same geographic area you are viewing in Our Environment.
- You can now create reports for user defined extents.
- Added wetlands dataset; both current and historic wetlands maps can be viewed.
- Added Basic Ecosystems dataset.
- Updated the vegetation layer using the Land Cover Database Version 3 (LCDB3).
- 'Labels, hydrology and roads' relabelled 'Context Layers'.
- Added fault lines to Context Layers. Data derived from GNS 1:250K Faults data. Viewable at scales greater than 1:500,000.
- Added two new base map layers: colour and monochrome Hybrid Topographic & Relief maps.
- Improved the cartography of the colour and monochrome topographic base maps.
- Begun to harmonise S-map online and Our Environment glossary entries.
- Minor changes made to the user interface and fixes to a number of small bugs.
- PDF maps created using the colour or monochrome hybrid topographic & relief map layers are of lower quality than if the other base map layers are used.
- PDF maps created using layers derived from the DEM and ecosystems layers are of lower quality than for other science layers.
Last updated: 22 June 2020