GIS and Agricultural Land Use Inventories
Much of the farming activity in British Columbia takes place in
close proximity to urban areas. Comprehensive planning for
agriculture is becoming increasingly important to ensure a
sustainable future for agriculture and to reduce,
or avoid, land use
As in any planning effort, information is key.
A Geographic Information System (GIS) applied to an agricultural
landscape can effectively capture, store, analyze and display
information that is geographically based. Of its many benefits, GIS
can improve our understanding of farming areas, help promote
agricultural development and assist in identifying and handling
issues important to strengthening farming.
Ministry of Agriculture and Lands has been working
with many local governments in
undertaking land use inventory projects
in their farming areas.
A variety of maps and statistics
can be created from the land use inventory, including primary land
use activities, agricultural land use changes, and activities along
the urban-rural edge.
The Ministry has developed a series of tools to assist local governments
are interested in conducting a land use inventory. These tools
include an Access database and coding system for recording
information and a
40-page guide on the land use inventory methodology.
method developed by the Ministry involves a team of two surveyors conducting
a "windshield" survey. Using a combination of drive-by
observations and aerial photographic interpretation, the survey team
examines each legal parcel within the study area, recording both the
land covers (e.g. buildings, crops) and land use activities (e.g.
The information for each parcel is entered into a database
and then linked to a GIS layer of the legal parcels. A GIS
user can then query and map the land use inventory information.