AAFC Geomatics – The National Land and Water Information Service (NLWIS)

Whether you are a casual gardener, a policy maker, an environmentalist or a farmer, you can get one-stop access to a wide range of information about agriculture and the environment at the new Agri-Geomatics portal.

The new website pulls together agri-environmental data from a wide range of sources using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. It also provides expert help to apply and interpret the information. Currently, there are more than a dozen geographic applications available in Canada's two official languages. These applications were developed by AAFC, but many other organizations contributed expertise and geospatial data.

A wide range of interactive maps helps to visualize and explore the data on the website. Some maps have broad public appeal. The Plant Hardiness Zones of Canada, for instance, which was created with Natural Resources Canada, is very popular with Canadian gardeners. Other maps are important components of policy-oriented programs such as the Agri-Environmental Indicators (AEI) web map product, which allows users to explore and compare a suite of 10 agrienvironmental indicators. These indicators can be used to assess the efficacy of targeted environmental policies and programs; to identify, for instance, where special farm management techniques are needed or other areas of concern; and to communicate the current state and trends of a variety of aspects of environmental health to decision makers and to the general public.

One of the newest tools is the Biomass Inventory Mapping and Analysis Tool (BIMAT). It was developed to broaden knowledge about the availability of Canadian residual biomass as a renewable resource substitute for petroleumbased fuels and for other industrial processes. Users of the tool can get a comprehensive view of biomass quantity and opportunity in Canada. This tool has already been used by the biomass industry to refine its business plans based on the volume and sustainability of biomass available at any given location.

A number of tools on the website are specifically tailored to land managers. For example, the "fence calculator" is used to map out and project the cost of fencing off a riparian area.

The development of the website was undertaken by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in cooperation with several government partners, including Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Statistics Canada, under the National Land and Water Information Service (NLWIS) project. The project team built a web portal that includes a comprehensive collection of interactive maps, planning tools, expertise, and geospatial data highlighting land use, soil, water, climate and biodiversity across the country. These data can be integrated into decisions by governments, producers, planners, and land-use managers across Canada, creating a knowledge base that can be shared.

With the completion of the project on March 31, 2009, the newly created Agri- Geomatics Division, within the Agri-Environment Services Branch, will support the ongoing products, services and enterprise Geographic Information Systems (GIS) environment developed during the NLWIS project.

[Please note that this content is no longer current and that the project ended in 2009]