Forest, soil and LiDAR data

This page provides information on how organisations can access forest, soil and LiDAR data for their own ecological research, forest monitoring and other purposes.

Natural forest data

Natural forest data are available to central and local government agencies, research institutes, universities and members of the public. The data can be obtained from the National Vegetation Survey databank. Data use protocols apply. In a very small number of cases, landowners have imposed additional restrictions on data use.

New Zealand National Vegetation Survey Databank [Landcare Research website]

Under ‘Data’, go to ‘Search’, and use ‘LUCAS’ or 'MfE' as your search term.

Planted forest data

Planted forest data are available to forestry-based research organisations, universities and training providers. The data comprise ground-based plot measurements and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data. LiDAR is an airborne remote sensing technology that measures distance and surface properties of targets by illuminating them with a laser and recording the reflections.

The LiDAR data comprise swaths approximately 70m-wide over various pre-1990 and post-1989 forest plantations. The data was captured in 2008 and 2010.  

Metrics for multiple surfaces (tree-top to ground) can be extracted from this LiDAR data to characterise forest structure and ground elevation. This can be of value to researchers, forest owners and training organisations.

Confidential information in the data is not supplied and some forest owners’ data are restricted from wider use.

Locations of available LiDAR data

See the map below for locations of available LiDAR data.

Soil data

The Ministry for the Environment can make available a variety of soil data sets obtained from both historical sources and ground-based field inventories.


Enquiries and requests for planted forest and soil data can be made to the Ministry for the Environment’s LUCAS team.