British Columbians will soon have free access to high-tech data about the province.

The technology, known as LiDAR (light detection and ranging), is the most cost-effective and efficient method for mapping terrain. Similar to the technology used in self-driving vehicles, LiDAR uses remote-sensing technology to acquire dense and accurate elevation data.

Access to this data will allow forestry, fishing, agriculture and mining operators to make improved resource management decisions. By providing improved visuals and vegetation inventories and supporting improved terrain analyses in areas of British Columbia that are remote, more environmentally friendly practices can be applied.

Making this dataset free for the public has far-reaching applications for industry, land use planning and public safety. Previously, LiDAR was prohibitively expensive, so many small businesses and First Nations’ groups were unable to use the data.

Aerial LiDAR offers the most cost-effective, efficient method to support programs, such as forest-inventorying and harvesting, water management and engineering and construction, as well as climate change modelling. Currently, around 86,000 square kilometres of the province have been mapped using LiDAR.

While this technology has been used by the government in the past, it was distributed to other entities only upon request. By making this data free to all, it reduces the administrative costs associated with managing the information LiDAR collects, creating cost savings overall.

A public-facing data portal has been created, providing background information about LiDAR. A digital download mechanism improves accessibility and cuts down on storage, distribution issues and costs.

Learn More:

LiDAR data portal:


Sent on behalf of Nancy Liesch

Director, GeoBC

Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

ICI Society Board Member