Land uses have a major effect on Australia's natural resources through their impacts on water, soil, nutrients, plants and animals. There is also a strong link between changing patterns of land use and economic and social conditions, particularly in regional Australia.
A summary of Australia's land use is provided in Land Use in Australia at a Glance PDF [1.11 MB, 4 pages].
What is land use?
Land use information shows how our land resources are used. This includes the production of goods (such as crops, timber and manufactures) and services (such as defence, recreation, biodiversity and natural resources protection).
There is often confusion between the terms 'land use' and 'land cover' because of the common use of remotely sensed data (either satellite or airborne) for mapping. The distinction between land use and land management practice is also poorly understood.
Australia's Land Use
Land use mapping in Australia is conducted broadly at two scales: national scale and catchment scale.
The map and area statistics below show national scale land use mapping for Australia for 2015–16.
Catchment scale mapping can be viewed via the National Map. This mapping has been completed across the country for different time periods.
Both national scale and catchment scale land use datasets can be accessed via the data download page. Detailed information about how Australia's land use is mapped is available on the Mapping technical specifications page.
National scale land use (based on Land Use of Australia 2010–11 to 2015–16, 250 m, ABARES 2022)
|Land use in 2015–16||Area (sq. km)||Percent|
|Managed resource protection||1,367,011||18%|
|Other minimal use||1,042,370||14%|
|Grazing native vegetation||3,253,707||42%|
|Production native forests||77,553||1.0%|
|Plantation forests (commercial and other)||26,945||0.35%|
|Grazing modified pastures||467,048||6.1%|
|Intensive horticulture and animal plant production||1,124||0.01%|
|Urban intensive uses||26,808||0.35%|
|Rural residential and farm infrastructure||20,958||0.27%|
|Mining and waste||7,214||0.09%|