Local land use planning: Guidance on spatial data, geographic information systems and foresight in the Arctic

Land use plans range from an overall strategic document for a municipality or a region, to a detailed plan describing development of a specific locality. Land use planning also provides foresight by identifying options for how a future vision may be achieved through land use development.

In this context, land use planning is also understood as a process, involving public authorities, private sector actors, and of course, the political sphere. Within land use planning, information is used to add knowledge to the process – as input that supports decision making and as output that documents processes into concrete “plans”. Geographic information systems (GIS), and the data they use, are often fundamental tools of local land use planning.

These applications are wide ranging, with different programmes addressing diverse sectors and themes and delivering both insight into current land use patterns and foresight into expected or desired outcomes. Such a wide range of tools and possible uses means that knowing what is available for local planning is a complex issue. At the same time, planning departments in relatively small municipalities, five of which are participating in the REGINA project, often have less well-developed GIS knowledge base due to their lower availability of human and capital resources.

In response, this report provides a general guidance for these types of municipalities that want to learn more about their options for land use planning using GIS. As part of the REGINA project, we focus on northern and Arctic communities facing the development of large-scale natural resources-based industries alongside existing economic and socio-cultural activities.

Information is provided based on four key topics:

  1. Spatial data types and data sources
  2. GIS tools
  3. Local competencies of REGINA partner municipalities
  4. Land use foresight planning – GIS and stakeholder participation