Free, accessible data will help communities manage, adapt, plan
April 13, 2023
VICTORIA – B.C. communities can look forward to high-quality data to support effective and informed decision-making on the planning and management of wildfires, landslides, floods and other natural events.
The Province is investing more than $38 million in a new program over the next six years to collect light distance and ranging (LiDAR) elevation data.
LiDAR is a modern survey method that uses aerial remote sensing technology to map the Earth’s surface. It delivers highly detailed and accurate three-dimensional mappings of landscapes. Unlike the Province’s current digital models of landscapes that are based on aerial imagery taken 30 years ago, LiDAR-based mapping includes detailed representations of forests, bodies of water, and buildings, as well as other infrastructure.
“Investing in better data means investing in better decisions for climate resiliency,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “Generating this invaluable data and making it freely available will keep people safe, and ensure communities are protected, productive and economically competitive.”
The Province currently makes a large collection of LiDAR data free and equally accessible to everyone in B.C. Gathering more LiDAR data will create better certainty for First Nations, local governments, communities, decision-makers, land-use planners and other stakeholders when planning for the impacts of climate change.
High-resolution mapping derived from LiDAR will provide information that is critical to a number of fields, including natural-resource management disciplines like forestry, wildfire and fuels, surface hydrology, agriculture, ecology, wildlife, habitat management and restoration, geology and geomorphology.
LiDAR information will also support meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples as shared decision-making in resource management relies on evidence-based decisions using the best available data.
Learn more about LiDAR, or to discover and download LiDAR data as it becomes available, visit: https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=d06b37979b0c4709b7fcf2a1ed458e03
- LiDAR data is collected from aircraft using sensors that detect the reflections of lasers.
- LiDAR data provides accurate 3D information for various mapping products, including digital elevation models, forest inventory analysis, floodplain analysis, infrastructure analysis, transportation analysis and many other applications.
- LiDAR data is openly and freely available to the public for 11% of B.C.’s landscape.
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship
What people are saying about LiDAR data
Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests –
“Our forests have given us so much, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we all work with the latest tools and information to strengthen forest management practices to better conserve old growth and ecosystem health. The challenge of managing forest ecosystems has never been greater and free access to detailed aerial mapping provincewide ensures we all work to the highest levels of accountability as we respond to both the opportunities and challenges of climate change.”
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy –
“LiDAR data provides accurate, consistent results, which will benefit the Province and First Nations in land-use decision-making processes. Better data will also help us plan for and measure our GHG emission reductions, which will support our transition to a resilient, innovative, low-carbon economy that works for everyone.”
Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs –
“We have seen first-hand how our province’s landscape has changed because of recent climate events. LiDAR data gives all local elected officials and their staff the tools they need in order to make the best decisions for their communities. Free access to current data will be a game changer for B.C. local governments, providing them with greater certainty for future planning and allowing them to be better prepared for potential climate emergencies.”
Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness –
“People across the province are experiencing the escalating impacts of the climate crisis and understanding the hazards that climate change brings is critical to helping us prepare for the risks ahead. LiDAR can help us better identify areas that are at risk of disasters like flooding or landslides. This investment will help people by giving communities more accurate information to reduce risk and prepare for disasters.”
Christine Smith-Martin, CEO, Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative –
“Coastal First Nations extend their thanks to the B.C. government for making a significant investment in the acquisition and sharing of LiDAR information. This new information will be a key part of the Nations’ ongoing efforts to protect and steward cultural heritage, wildlife and old growth in the Great Bear Rainforest.”
Dallas Smith, president, Nanwakolas Council –
“I am very pleased to see this level of investment by the B.C. government in high-quality, detailed mapping data that will move us all forward to meet a key commitment in agreements associated with the Great Bear Rainforest. We agree that high-quality data of the kind that LiDAR will supply is essential to inform adaptive management and to broaden our understanding of forests and other ecosystems in the region. This commitment of funding will serve to help us all achieve that goal.”
Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship