Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Land resources

Outcome 2: Sustainable use of land resources and the ecosystem services across catchments and sectors


Land resources include the soil’s dynamic physical, chemical and biological ‘systems’, and the land cover, topography and hydrology in which the soil is situated. Land is a vital natural asset that supports a wide variety of resource use and which provides a wide range of ecosystem services, e.g. clean water, fertile soils, and aesthetic, cultural and spiritual benefits upon which New Zealand’s economy, identity and brand are based. Our soil resources alone are estimated to underpin 25% of New Zealand’s GDP.

Protecting our land assets does not automatically imply limiting resource use; rather it focuses on how resources are allocated and managed for primary production, clean water, urban development, conservation, tourism and cultural values. Our land assets also underpin New Zealand’s contributions to global issues (e.g. biodiversity loss, climate change). Effective management requires improved knowledge of their variability and change over time and across catchments and landscapes (natural, managed and urban), the impact of human activities, and potential environmental limits.

Achieving appropriate sustainable management of our land and water resources is a major economic development opportunity for New Zealand.

Impact 1 : The status and trends of land resources and ecosystem services (including their interactions) are known and understood.


LCDB (land cover), LUDB (land use), S-map (soil) and ESDB (ecosystem services) components of LRIS (Land Resource Information System) have been enriched and are being used under the New Zealand Government Open Access Licensing framework for web-services.
  • S-map Online now provides land managers, consultants and other researchers with a detailed level of spatial information to help fine-tune land management and technologies
  • An updated version of the Land Cover Database, a thematic classification of land cover (33 classes in LCDB v3.0), has been released
  • Where appropriate, information from our Nationally Signi.cant Databases is available online under an open-licensing agreement whereby the data are freely used for public good (non-commercial) purposes provided Landcare Research is acknowledged as the source of data                   

Impact 2 : Opportunities and threats to land resources are recognised and balanced to maintain or enhance the provision ofecosystem services.                       



Regional councils and the irrigation, pastoral, horticultural and arable sectors are using knowledge of soil variability to improve the match between land-use practices and land capability.
  • Precision irrigation tuned to soil variability at the paddock scale has achieved water savings of 20–36%, without any reduction in productivity, at three demonstration farms
  • Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Southland councils now have access to significantly improved S-map coverage of soil variability
  • Soil variability underpins the design and storage capacity of effluent management systems that comply with DairyNZ’s code of practice