Vegetation, Habitat & LIDAR Data for Sonoma County

Sonoma Veg Map is a 5-year program to map Sonoma County's topography, physical and biotic features, and diverse plant communities and habitats. It is a joint program of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District and the Sonoma County Water Agency. Contributing partners include the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the United States Geological Survey, the Sonoma County Information Systems Department, the Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works Department, The Nature Conservancy, the City of Petaluma, NASA, and the University of Maryland. The program has produced a suite of fine scale data products including countywide LiDAR data (click here for a description of LiDAR) orthophotography and vegetation, which are now freely available.

Critical Data for Sonoma County
Consortium Funding
What is the Veg Map?
Local Expertise
1-minute LiDAR Demonstration Video

Critical Data for Sonoma County
The publicly available datasets produced by this program (see full list here) – including countywide LiDAR data and a fine scale vegetation and habitat map – provide an accurate, up-to-date inventory of the county's landscape features, ecological communities and habitats. These foundational data sets are key to facilitating good planning and management for watershed protection, flood control, fire and fuels management and wildlife habitat conservation. These data are also critical to assessing climate mitigation and adaptation strategies and benefits provided by the landscape, such as the amount of carbon sequestration in forests or the degree to which riparian areas, floodplains, and coastal habitats may buffer extreme weather events.

Consortium Funding
The District, the Water Agency, and their partners have worked together to procure the necessary funding for all program elements including the vegetation and habitat map, LiDAR data, and a suite of additional next-generation data products collected in fall, 2013 including high resolution topography, building outlines, roads, and high resolution aerial photography. State and federal partners are responsible for funding approximately 58% of the program, with the remaining 42% coming from Sonoma County partners. The core funding for the LiDAR data products comes from a NASA grant to the University of Maryland. For more information on the NASA grant, see our press release.

What is the Veg Map?
The District, the Water Agency and their partners developed a classification of the county's vegetation types and physical features, analyzed the LiDAR data and high resolution aerial imagery using human interpreters and computer algorithms, and verified vegetation characteristics in the field. The result is a fine scale vegetation and habitat map for the entire county (click here for more on methods). LiDAR data has increased vegetation map accuracy and provided three dimensional data regarding the built environment, forest structure, and landscape features such as streams and wetlands – all of which support multiple applications for:

  • natural resource planning
  • land conservation
  • sustainable community and climate protection planning
  • public works projects
  • hydrologic evaluations
  • watershed assessments and planning
  • disaster preparedness

Veg Scale Comparison

Local Expertise
Tukman Geospatial LLC, a Sonoma County-based geospatial technology firm with specific expertise in vegetation mapping, serves as the primary contractor for mapping and data collection. Supporting Tukman Geospatial are Kass Green and Associates, Watershed Sciences, Inc., Prunuske Chatham, Inc., the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), Dr. Jarlath O'Neil- Dunne (University of Vermont), and Kruse Imaging. The program has an array of advisers, including the Vegetation Mapping and Remote Sensing Advisory Committee, which advises the mapping team on state-of-the art mapping techniques and methods.

The program, which began in 2012, will last five years. Field work to develop a vegetation classification for Sonoma County was conducted in 2013 and 2014. LiDAR and aerial photography were acquired in late 2013 and are now available; vegetation and habitat mapping was completed in 2017. A list of map and data products is shown in the full list of data products.

Technology Advisers
The Vegetation Mapping and Remote Sensing Advisory Committee, comprised of 15 experts in remote sensing, GIS, vegetation mapping, and technology, advises the mapping team on technical issues and the keeps the team up to speed on the newest mapping methods and technologies. For more information on the technical advisory committee - including a list of members - click here.

Ecology Advisers
The Local Ecology and Botany Group, made up of about 35 experts in ecology, botany, and land management, provides expert local botanical and ecological insight to help make the most comprehensive, accurate, and useful map possible. For more information on the ecology advisers - including list of group members - click here.

LiDAR Demonstration Video

Last updated: December 3, 2020 at 21:09 pm