Natural Resource Management and GIS

GIS technology is a useful tool for natural resource management. Geographic information system (GIS) technology can be used to gather, maintain, analyze and store geographic data.

GIS technology can be used to gather analyse geographical natural resource data on the local, city, state, and national level for a variety of purposes related to natural resource management.

As populations grow, the demand for natural resources increases while at the same time their supply often decreases. That is why it is essential that natural resources are managed appropriately. GIS can provide natural resource managers with the data they need to make key decisions in regard to their use and allocation.

What is GIS Mapping?

GIS technology combines geography with data while paper maps are flat drawings of an area with limited information aside from landmarks, with GIS technology, however, maps are dynamic and rich with data. GIS mapping can be used to create layered, even 3-dimensional maps that represent complex natural resource data sets.

GIS Mapping for Natural Resources

Natural Resource Management: A GIS floodzone map showing areas of Illinois that would be inundated in a in year flood.

A GIS floodzone map showing areas of Illinois that would be inundated in a in year flood.

Not only can GIS technology be used for general mapping purposes, but it can be highly beneficial for natural resource management as well. GIS has become an important tool for professionals such as botanists, biologists, hydrologists, ecologists, farmers, miners, petroleum engineers, and environmental regulators. More and more GIS is used to provide data for critical decision making.

GIS Mapping For Park Management?

GIS technology can be used to gather and analyze information about wildlife populations, timber growth in forests, changes in water supply, and more.

Park managers use GIS technology to monitor visitor impact on the environment as well as park assets such as seating, paths, etc. GIS can also be used to track wildlife populations to make sure that they are not being threatened by visitor activity.

GIS Technology and Pollution

Another important use for GIS technology relates to identifying pollution sources. For example, the county of Sacramento in California uses GIS technology to identify land parcels with uses that have been known to contribute to pollution.

The county then uses that information to plot potential scenarios which might help to reduce those pollution sources. GIS technology can also be used to track the impact of different types of pollution on plant growth and wildlife populations for the purpose of mitigating those negative impacts for the future.


There are many ways GIS technology is used for natural resource management. It can be used to monitor endangered species and their habitats, to identify potential sources of pollution, and to monitor the impact of human influence on various natural resources.

GIS technology can be used to undertake complex geographical modelling and analyses, for geographical reporting, or in ways as simple as looking at a map on a computer screen.


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