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  Environment » Environmental Information » Environmental indicators » Land and soil: monitoring and reporting » Land use » How we monitor

How we monitor

Where and how we collect the data

Waikato Regional Council monitors changes in land use in the Waikato region using data from the Ministry for the Environment’s Land Cover Database (LCDB). Monitoring land cover over time provides information on changing land use.  

Monitoring sites

We measure the area in different land use types for the entire Waikato region.  

Monitoring frequency

The Ministry for the Environment intends to update the LCDB every 5 years. Waikato Regional Council's monitoring of changes in land use is dependent on the release of the updated LCDB datasets by the Ministry for the Environment.

Monitoring history

The LCDB 4 data used to derive this indicator update was primarily derived from SPOT 5 satellite imagery acquired between November 2011 and February 2013. More information is available from the dedicated Land Cover Database website(external link).

Measurement technique

We use the:

  • LCDB 4 to find out regional land use.
  • The LCDB 4 minimum mapping unit is 1 hectare, and the data are suitable for applications down to 1:25,000 scale.

How this indicator is compiled

We use geographic information system (GIS) tools to calculate the extent of land use types within the Waikato region, and by district council area.

Guidelines and standards

This indicator re-categorises the LCDB 4 land cover classes in the table below into six major land use types in the Waikato region. The table below shows the categories of land use type derived from land cover class.  

LCDB4 Class Land use type
 Built-up Area (settlement) Urban
 Urban Parkland/Open Space Urban
Transport Infrastructure Other
Surface Mine or Dump Other
Sand or Gravel Other
Landslide Other
Permanent Snow and Ice Other
Alpine Grass/Herbfield Indigenous vegetation
Gravel or Rock Other
Lake or Pond Other
River Other
Estuarine Open Water Other
Short-rotation Cropland Horticultural and cropping
Orchard, Vineyard or Other Perennial Crop  Horticultural and cropping
High Producing Exotic Grassland Pastoral farming
Low Producing Grassland Pastoral farming
Tall Tussock Grassland Indigenous vegetation
Depleted Grassland Indigenous vegetation
Herbaceous Freshwater Vegetation Indigenous vegetation
Herbaceous Saline Vegetation Indigenous vegetation
Flaxland Indigenous vegetation
Fernland Indigenous vegetation
Gorse and/or Broom Other
Manuka and/or Kanuka Indigenous vegetation
Broadleaved Indigenous Hardwoods Indigenous vegetation
Sub Alpine Shrubland Indigenous vegetation
Mixed Exotic Shrubland Other
Matagouri or Grey Scrub Indigenous vegetation
Forest - Harvested Plantation forestry
Deciduous Hardwoods Other
Indigenous Forest Indigenous vegetation
Mangrove Indigenous vegetation
Exotic Forest Plantation forestry




Whereas the LCDB 1 database was released with classification accuracies validated to plus or minus 10 per cent, no classification accuracy has been established for the LCDB 2 dataset. The Landsat 7 satellite imagery used to create the dataset does however possess improved spectral and spatial resolutions compared to the SPOT satellite imagery used to create LCDB 1. It is therefore expected that LCDB 2 classification accuracy should equal or exceed that of LCDB 1 for comparable classes.

The LCDB gives a ‘snapshot’ of vegetation when the data were collected and should not be considered the definitive current vegetation cover.

The data was presented as percentage of each district council area in the region by major land use type. However, the data do not allow for a breakdown of land use type by activity, for example, separating pastoral farming into different types such as dairy farming or sheep and beef farming.

Note that Waitomo, Rotorua and Taupo districts all extend beyond the regional boundary.  The analysis of this indicator is limited to the Waikato region. Therefore, Waikato Regional Council's information on this indicator may not represent the entire area of these three districts.

Further indicator developments

In future this indicator may potentially be expanded to further delineate different land use classes and enterprise types such as dairy, drystock and cropping..  

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