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 and 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 1:25,000 (where 1cm on the map = 250m 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.​

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.

Top. 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.

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.

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.​

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.​


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.

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.

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.

Last reviewed:
20 Sep 2017