FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is investing $1.4 million through the Environmental Trust Fund to acquire and provide free access to Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data, a highly-accurate mapping technology.

“Our investment in this elevation mapping information will provide unrestricted access to data for the business community and the general public, aiding in planning for economic development, sustainable communities, and climate change adaptation,” said Environment and Local Government Minister Serge Rousselle. “This initiative will generate cost savings for government by reducing duplication, help us stimulate the provincial economy and enable growth in multiple sectors.”

LiDAR technology is the most efficient means of acquiring high-resolution earth information. Open and free access will help environmental groups, municipalities, businesses and the public.

“This is a very smart investment,” said Lois Corbett, executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. “The maps and images of our forests, for example, will provide a clearer picture of the work we need to do to manage our Crown lands in an ecologically-sound manner.”

The data includes information on wetlands that need special protection for the vital role they play in helping protect communities from flooding. LiDAR data sets will also provide community planners, home builders and decision makers along river shorelines and ocean coasts with the information they need to adapt to a changing climate.

Corbett said that better data, made publicly-available, is an essential ingredient in the recipe for informed, science-based public policy.

“I look forward to seeing the data collected and I expect that when armed with better information, environmental groups, business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators will find smart ways to use it to protect New Brunswick’s environment,” she said.

LiDAR provides accurate foundational data for government operations, such as the Department of Environment and Local Government’s climate change planning and wetlands management, the Department of Energy and Resources Development’s forest management initiatives, the Department of Justice and Public Safety’s emergency response and planning, and Service New Brunswick’s assessment role.

“This technology supports a wide array of applications that are increasingly essential in today’s digital economy,” said Service New Brunswick Minister Ed Doherty. “Our government is committed to ensuring our client services are in keeping with the advances of smart government and LiDAR is a great example of how we are embracing innovation and open data to move New Brunswick forward.”

The Environmental Trust Fund provides assistance to community groups, organizations, municipalities and institutions for projects that produce tangible, measurable benefits to the environment.

More information, including the list of approved projects and initiatives, is available online.