1.1.1 Forest Service Mapping Series 6 (FSMS6)

The 23 completed maps provide the distribution of indigenous forest vegetation for all of the North Island and the bulk of the South Island at a scale of 1:250,000. These maps were primarily compiled by Mr John Nicholls with some of the South Island maps compiled by Mr Dudley Franklin. Black and white aerial photographs, dating from 1948 to 1955 and at a scale of 15 chains per inch, supplemented by extensive ground truthing and some 16,000 National Forest Survey and Ecosurvey plots, were used to determine forest class boundaries. These were transferred to 1:63360 topographic maps. The maps were field checked and then copied for production by FRI graphics staff (Herbert 1997, pers. comm.).

Most maps were completed by the NZ Forest Service, with a small number being finished by the Ministry of Forestry and then by Landcare Research Ltd. Appendix 1 gives the list of maps digitised. The date of the photographs that were used to compile each map is not known exactly.

1.1.2 Forest Service Mapping Series 15 (FSMS15)

There are two FSMS15 comprising 1:1,000,000 maps of the North Island, and South Island (including Stewart Island). These were compiled by NZFS Conservancy and Head Office staff for the 1974 Forestry Development Conference. Forest boundaries for the 1:1,000,000 FSMS15 maps are significantly less accurate than those for the 1:250,000 FSMS6 maps (Herbert and Nicholls, 1997, pers. comm.). Data sources included existing FSMS6 maps (with 18 classes coalesced into eight super classes), local published and unpublished maps and local knowledge for areas not cover by the FSMS6. The Te Anau, Hauroko and Mataura FSMS6 series maps were substituted for by the South Island FSMS15 map.

1.1.3 Forest Service Type Map Series No. 2 (FSTM2)

These are a collection of detailed forest class maps at 1:63360 scale. Coverage is confined to parts of the central North Island.

1.1.4 Vegetation of Stewart Island

Mr Hugh Wilson (Wilson, 1987) developed a detailed map of the vegetation of Steward Island. Wilson’s Podocarp/hardwood forest, and rata-kamahi hardwood forest polygons (Types A 1-2, B3) were digitised.

1.2 Forest Class Description

There are eighteen forest classes described in the FSMS6 map series. These are described in Table 1. The source is Nicholls and Herbert (1995). FSMS15 has eight super classes and these are defined in Table 2.

Table 1: Forest classes, codes and IPCC class
Class Code IPCC Class
Kauri A C
Kauri -Softwoods-Hardwoods B M
Kauri -Softwoods-Hardwoods-Beeches C M
Softwoods L C
Rimu-Matai-Hardwoods M M
Rimu-Taraire - Tawa E M
Rimu-Tawa D M
Rimu-General Hardwoods F M
Lowland Steepland and Highland Softwoods - Hardwoods G M
Rimu-Tawa-Beeches H M
Rimu - General Hardwoods - Beeches I M
Highland Softwoods-Beeches J M
Taraire-Tawa S B
Tawa N B
General Hardwoods P B
Tawa Beeches O B
General Hardwoods - Beeches T B
Beeches K B

IPCC Class Definitions: C: Conifer, B: Broadleaf, M: Mixed.

Table 2: FSMS15 forest classes
Class code / FSMS6Classes Description IPCC Class
Kauri - Podocarp - Hardwood /A, B, C All forest containing kauri, including minor
area of pure kauri and local occurrence of
beech M
Podocarp L/ L Forest of abundant podocarps C
Lowland Podocarp - Hardwood 1/ D, E, F, M, pt. G Virgin or lightly logged podocarp -
hardwood forest below the
altitudinal limit of rimu M
Lowland Hardwood 2/ N, S, pt. P Residual and second growth forest below the
altitudinal limit of rimu and minor areas of
natural pure hardwood forest. B
Upland Podocarp - Hardwood 3/ Pts G, P Virgin or lightly logged podocarp - hardwood
above the altitudinal limit of rimu and
minor areas of natural pure hardwood forest.
Podocarp - Hardwood - Beech 4/ H, I Virgin or lightly logged forest of mixed
podocarp - hardwood and beech below the
altitudinal limit of rimu M
Hardwood - Beech 5/ O, T Residual or second growth forest and minor
areas of natural pure hardwood - beech. B
Beech 6/ J, K Virgin and lightly logged or second-growth
forests predominantly composed of beech B
Wilson Stewart Island 7/ Podocarp/hardwood forest, and rata-kamahi
hardwood forest. M

    2.1 Digitising and Topology Generation

The maps were digitised by staff at the Forest Research Institute under standards listed in Appendix 2, using the Terrasoft Geographic Information System. The linear features that made up each forest class polygon are shared between two feature classes one, called NZFS6 which contains the national coverage, and the other based on the respective map sheet number. This allows themes to be developed for a national view and also for the individual map sheets.

The line work is topologically correct with no over-, or under- shoots.

Each polygon has a nationally unique identifier and which is linked to a dbase table containing a code letter which describes the forest vegetation class.

These maps were digitised for the purpose of providing indigenous forest vegetation cover for usage at a national scale. There has been no formal checking of the accuracy of the digitised linework. Any errors are considered to be insignificant for determining a 1990 indigenous forest vegetation baseline database. Each polygon was checked to confirm correct tagging. During that process any significant linear differences were noted and corrected.

2.2 Problems

2.2.1 Incorrect map details

In several places errors on the maps were found. Either the FSTM2 maps were consulted for greater detail where coverage existed or Mr John Nicholls was, personally, consulted and the error corrected.

2.2.2 Map source quality

Most FSMS6 maps where unused, unfolded sheets with only sheet 12 being an unused folded map. The FSMS15 South Island map was a well used map with significant fold lines. This map also had other printed information which made precise measurement of some forest class boundaries difficult.


This document defines the standards used for digitising the forest class maps (NZFS Map Series 6, FSMS15 and Wilson, 1987).

The source of the FSMS6 data is the 1:125,000 flat map sheets, the FSMS15 maps and the Vegetation map contained in Wilson (1987).

The following digitising standards were used.

A minimum of five points for registration should be selected from a rectangular range encapsulating the immediate digitising area.
These points then should he entered into Convert and both the input and the resultant NZMG coordinates checked before the map is registered.
The registration error should be (in Terrasoft) 0.00%.
The media should be anchored firmly to the digitiser. The RMU laboratory should be used with the air conditioning turn on.
Registration should occur at least twice a day, but occur more frequently if the humidity changes.
All lines and polygon which represent a forest type needs to be captured irrespective of size.
All intersections should have a node digitised.
The two feature classes are NZFS6 and NZFS6_; NZFS15, and SI_WIL respectively.
All joins to lines must be done to the actual point not the nearest digitised node, (touch line is preferable to snap).
The polygon construction method should be used for small polygons, though care must be used in the final close to ensure correct shape is retained.
The line to be digitised, for a boundary defined by the bush symbol, is along the top of the symbol. Where the bush symbol changes direction care does need to be taken. In a convex direction change the above is true, but in a sharp concave (cave shaped) direction change the vertexes of the line may well go through the ‘base of the symbol.

Shape must be identical

Theme creation
A Theme will be created for each map sheet.
The national NZFS6 theme will be created by including the previously digitised map sheets and the FSMS15 and Wilson’s map.
Polygon tags are to be corrected between the map sheets to make them all unique.
All dangles and overlaps, and bad polygons are to be corrected.

All polygons are to be tagged with a code representing the forest type.
All sliver polygons are to be removed.

A plot should be created at the original scale and overlayed over the original map. Each polygon is checked to confirm correct tagging.


Category Science & Environment
Regions New Zealand
Technical Details
Layer ID 301
Collection date Before 1 Jan 1955.
Data type Vector polygon
Feature count 10705
Services Vector Query API
Added 26 Sep 2008
Revisions 2 - Browse all revisions
Current revision Imported on Sept. 26, 2008 from Shapefile in NZGD49 / New Zealand Map Grid.


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