Land use mapping

​​​​​​​Land use mapping in Australia is conducted broadly at two scales: national scale and catchment scale (see figures below). Both land use mapping methods use the Australian Land Use an​d Management (ALUM) Classification system.​

​National scale (1:2,500,000) uses a modelling approach to integrate agricultural commodity data, satellite imagery and other land use information. It is relatively inexpensive, statistically rigorous and is amenable to relatively frequent update to enable the assessment of trends.

Catchment scale land use mapping can vary from 1:​5,000 (where 1cm on the map = 50m on the ground) for irrigated and peri-urban areas, to 1:100,000 scale (1cm = 1km) for broadacre cropping regions, and 1:250,000 (1cm = 2.5km) for the semi-arid and arid pastoral zone. Catchment scale land use data is produced by combining state cadastre, public land databases, fine-scale satellite data, other land cover and use data, and information collected in the field.​

Download​ national scale and catchment scale land use data for free.

Figure 1. Land use for Augusta, Western Australia

Difference in scale and information contained in national (continental) scale and catchment scale land use maps in an area around Augusta in southwest Western Australia.

Map showing difference in scale and information  between national and catchment scale maps for AugustaTop. A sample of national scale mapping near Augusta based on data captured at approximately 1:2,500,000 scale provides insufficient detail for use in catchment scale applications. Source: Land Use of Australia 2010-11, Version 5, ABARES 2016.

Middle. A sample of the national 50m raster catchment scale mapping dataset of the same sample area provides greater detail at the 1:100,000 scale. Source: Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia – Update May 2016, ABARES 2016.

Bottom. Original vector based catchment scale mapping captured at 1:25,000 scale of the same sample area near Augusta shows the boundaries and detail provided by this finer scale mapping.​ Source: Cape to Cape Land Use 2014, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, 2015.


Figure 2. Land use for Cumberland, New South Wales

Difference in scale and information contained in national (continental) scale and catchment scale land use maps in Cumberland area, New South Wales.​

Map showing difference in scale and information  between national and catchment scale maps for Cumberland

Top. A sample of national scale mapping for Cumberland based on data captured at approximately 1:2,500,000 scale provides insufficient detail for use in catchment scale applications.  Source: Land Use of Australia 2010-11, Version 5, ABARES 2016.

Middle. A sample of the national 50m raster catchment scale mapping dataset of the same sample area provides greater detail at the 1:100,000 scale. Source: Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia – Update May 2016, ABARES 2016.

Bottom. Original vector based catchment scale mapping captured at 1:25,000 scale of the same sample Cumberland area shows the boundaries and detail provided by this finer scale mapping. Source: Land Use Mapping – Cumberland Plain Sub IBRA Bioregion 2012​, New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, 2013.

Last reviewed:
27 Jul 2018