How GIS Can Help in Managing The Environment

Mike Darracott | 16 May 2022

managing the environment

GIS (geographic information system) is a powerful and essential tool in helping to protect our planet, its inhabitants and its resources. 

Utilising GIS for conservation and protection provides a critical advantage when working to protect, preserve, conserve and restore the environment. As the human population grows and climate changes occur, environmental agencies and conservationists depend on GIS technology to help monitor and manage natural resources and the environment.

This article will outline how GIS can help manage the environment and why it is essential.

Why Is GIS Important? 

The effects of climate change and human activity are easy to notice wherever you live. 

GIS effectively monitors environmental data analysis and aids in better planning because it allows for current and historical data to be easily viewed and tracked. It also incorporates the ability to overlay various factors like slopes, vegetation, threatened species, watersheds and other aspects to determine several environmental parameters and impact analysis.

GIS also helps by transforming utilities and infrastructure using GIS to impact the environment positively.

11 Critical Ways GIS Can Help

1. Management Of Natural Resources

GIS technology helps maintain and manage water, forest and agricultural resources through mapping, remote sensing, historical data, climate trends and environmental changes.

Water is a critical resource necessary to all life on earth. GIS helps monitor it to ensure conscientious management and distribution and is essential in utilising this vital resource. 

GIS technology simplifies the monitoring of forest and agricultural resources, helping those industries to make the best choices for today and future generations.
2. Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA)

The EIA is a tool to help protect and conserve the environment and its natural resources. As our climate changes, the human population expands, and many areas are becoming more developed, it is essential to ensure that its inhabitants and natural resources are protected. 

Environmental impact analyses are necessary because they analyse several factors to help make an informed decision regarding the impact of a development, building, infrastructure development, pollution, environmental hazards, location of threatened species, etc. An EIA will determine potential adverse effects so that the individuals who make the decisions base their choices on all likely consequences.

2. Disaster Management And Preparedness

A GIS is a very advanced tool for mitigating risks and disaster management. GIS helps identify areas prone to natural disasters and identify possible areas likely to be affected by a manufactured disaster. 

An example of using the GIS system for a natural disaster would be a hurricane headed toward an area prone to flooding. GIS has transformed disaster relief from tracking and predicting to assisting in rescue, recovery and relief efforts. 

3. Identifying Hazards

GIS can help identify possible hazards ahead of time. Some of these hazards include:

  • Potential landslides by integrating various spatial data, including structural, surface cover, geological and slope characteristics of an area
  • Flooding risks for low lying areas 
  • Volcanic hazard zones and their impact on human life and the environment, including hot particles, gas clouds, lava flows, hot avalanches, and eruptions based on historical and current data

4. Determination Of Land Use and Land Cover

Land use indicates the area on the surface used for a particular purpose. Vegetation, trees, water, or other features covering the earth’s surface represent land cover.

Utilising GIS technology to detect changes or patterns in the land cover or land use over time or a sudden change due to erosion, natural elements or other human-related activities such as deforestation is fast and efficient.

There are private and governmental organisations participating in environmental research in estuaries, forests and agriculture that use GIS to monitor change, mitigate risk and identify areas that need restoration.

5. Monitor Disaster Damage

GIS helps document and detect damage from disasters. The government and insurance agencies use this information to determine monetary values of damage and property loss due to flooding, hurricanes, fires, tornadoes and other natural or man-made disasters.

6. Mapping Of Wetlands

Wetlands are critical to maintaining a healthy environment as they retain water during dry periods and help reduce storm damage.  During hurricanes and flooding, they act as a sponge to absorb moisture.  They also help trap excess nutrient runoff to help reduce its negative impact on our waterways, estuaries, and the ocean. 

Remote sensing is integrated with GIS to help map wetlands using various scales, including the detection of chlorophyll, specific plant species and multiple components.  GIS can help support wetland conservation projects very quickly because of the access to a vast amount of data available in a short amount of time to conservationists.

7. Soil Mapping

Soil mapping helps companies or individuals understand different land-use activities and provides resource information for a specific location and its soil suitability. It is an essential component in preventing environmental deterioration that is often seen with the misuse of land. 

GIS helps identify different soil types, soil boundaries, and soil classifications. Farmers often use GIS to help retain and identify soil nutrients to help ensure maximum yield for crops.

8. Management of Irrigation

Water availability needs to be managed for crop production in many regions. GIS is a quick and efficient way for farmers to utilise their water correctly.

9. Remote Sensing

Remote sensing is a commonly used method for collecting biological data integrated into a GIS. Remote sensors collect data from objects on earth by detecting energy reflected. These sensors can be found on satellites, aircraft and often drones and are very useful.

10. Identify Habitat of Threatened Species

GIS serves a critical role in protecting threatened and endangered species. Reserves around the globe, citizen scientists and many other conservation programs track biodiversity, scare and restricted species, monitor priority species and more. All of the data gathered is shared using GIS technology.

A great example of the utilisation of GIS technology is the National Biodiversity Network (NBN Gateway) holds more than 127 million species and works with more than 160 partners who provide data to anyone.

MGISS Has the GIS Solutions You’re Looking For

At MGISS, we offer GIS solutions to empower your organisation with the power of data that will help with decision making, management of assets and identifying risks. We specialise in working with utilities, infrastructure, and environmental services and helping create a better tomorrow for your company and our planet.
Contact us today to learn more about our GIS solutions.


Michael founded MGISS in 2014 to combine his extensive experience in the utility and infrastructure sectors, with a desire to transform the way these industries think about the value of spatial data and sustainability. As a qualified Engineering Surveyor, Michael has worked across engineering, national mapping agencies, commercial technology providers and in surveying and design since 1995, and sees his role as “building bridges” between people, technology and sustainability as an aid to solving global challenges.