Quick Start

First Steps

If you're new to NatureKit, pick up the basics by reading the Navigating the User Interface section or by watching our guidance videos below.

Alternatively, dive right in by using the functions below:

  • Turn map layers on and off in the Layer List on the left side of the screen.
  • Click on the map to see the attributes of the biodiversity map layers.
  • Click on the I Want to button in the top left corner of the map to see a list of  NatureKit tools.
  • Swap between base maps using the icon on the bottom left of the map.
  • Change the transparency of map layers in the Layer List using the slider next to the layer name to see the layers underneath.

Most importantly, learn the functions through exploration.

Navigating the User Interface

The Layer List: Layers, Legend & Drawing Order

The Layer List to the left of the map organises data sets included in NatureKit into topics.

  • To turn a layer on or off, tick or untick the check box or radio button next to the layer name.
  • To make a layer displayed in grey cursive visible, zoom in further to make the data appear on the map.
  • To show sub-layers, click on expand layer list next to the layer name.
  • To switch to legend view, click on the toggle button button in the top toolbar or click on the layer properties symbol next to the title Layers and select Show Legend.
  • To make a layer translucent, use the transparency slidertransparency slider (if available) next to the layer name.
  • To show a layer hidden underneath another layer, either turn the top layer off or click on the layer properties symbol next to the title Layers and select Change Layer Drawing Order. Most layers can be found in the Service Layers folder. Use the handle drawing order handle to the left of the service name most similar to the layer name and drag it to the top of the list.
  • To collapse/show the layer list and change available map space, click on the collapse listarrow in the top left corner of the map.

Navigating on the Map

  • To change map location (pan), click+drag on the map (active by default) or reactivate the pan tool Pan tool available in all top toolbar tabs.
  • To switch to the next higher/lower zoom level and keep the current map centre, use the on-map zoom tools on map zoom tools in the upper left corner of the map or the scale selection drop down menu scale selection toolat the bottom left of the map.
  • To zoom to a specific extent and location, use the Zoom In tool zoom in toolbar button in the toolbar and click+drag a rectangle anywhere on the map.
  • Click on the Initial View button initial view button in the toolbar to zoom to a state-wide scale.

Base Maps, Coordinates & Overview Map

  • To change the base map, click on the current base map icon base map in the lower left corner of the map window and select another base map. Base maps draw underneath other layers except the Streets layer, which draws on top of most layers. Choose White as base map to declutter the view. The grey scale base map is not available beyond 1:2,500.
  • To view the current coordinate of the mouse pointer, click the coordinates button icon in the lower left corner of the map window. Select the black arrow to change the spatial reference system of the coordinate display.
  • Expand the overview map inset by clicking on the arrow symbol overview map button in the bottom right map corner. The rectangle on the map represents the extent of the current map window. Click+drag the rectangle to quickly pan to a different location.

Viewing Details on Map Click

When you click on the map, some layers will return information on map features by default, while others require an extra step. It is always a prerequisite that the layer is turned on and visible at the current zoom level.

Biodiversity topic layers (Biodiversity Decision Systems, VBA Species Survey Records, Vegetation, Marine, Landcover) and Bathymetry return feature information right away.

Terrain and Reference Layers including street map information (road, property, locality, river, points of interest information) need the extra step of activating the Identify on Reference Layers tool identify on ref layer in the Query Reference Layers Tab. The tool needs to be reactivated for every map click.

If information for more than one feature was returned at the selected location, for Biodiversity topics, use thepopup arrows buttons to navigate through all results. Reference layer results are returned as a list sorted by (sub)layer, click on the name of the (sub) layer to see a list of features and on the list of features to see feature details.

Layer Themes

By default, all layers are displayed in the Layer List. New users may find it more comfortable to select a theme from the drop-down menu under the title Layers to view layers that belong to a single topic. Themes turn the visibility of layers belonging to a certain topic on and hide less relevant layers from the Layer List. Depending on your specific task, you may need to work with the Showing all layers Theme to achieve the custom combination of visible layers that you require.

I want to Menu

The I want to Menu is another way of accessing the toolbar and navigation functionality in a single list. It contains selected important tools with more detailed description than is possible in the toolbar.

The Toolbar

The toolbar is organised by topics into tabs. Some tools apply to certain map layers only, others generally apply to any map. A description of individual tools is provided below.

SMP & Habitat Maps Tab

Add Habitat Maps Tool

Select the Add Habitat Maps button in the SMP & Habitat Maps Tab. There are two types of habitat models/maps available: The Habitat Importance Maps (HIMs), intended for native vegetation regulation tasks, and the SMP Habitat Distribution Models (HDMs) intended for biodiversity management. Find more information on these models/maps on NatureKit's Layers and Datasets page.

NatureKit is using an on-demand data repository to manage the large number of models. To add an HDM to the map: go to SMP & Habitat Maps Tab > Add Habitat Maps Add habitat models iconbutton> Start typing a species name into the search box and tick a model/map from the suggested list. The selected model/map will be added as 'User added layers' in the Layer List.

By default, all user added layers are added on top of all layers on the map. To change the layer drawing order: add the model to the map; in the bottom Layers tab, click on the Layer List Context layer properties icon next to the title Layers in the layer list; select Change Layer Drawing Order; select Service Layers; use the dotted handles drawing order handle on the left of the layer/folder names to drag them into your preferred order. Layers further up on the list will draw on top of layers further down.

If after adding a model/map to the map, you don't see any changes even though the model name is shown in the layer list, it is likely that you have selected a sparse model/map with a very small habitat. Use the Filter Species (Basic) tool to select a species; use the halo function within the tool to find the observations on the map; zoom to these areas to find model/map information.

Drawing multiple models/maps impacts NatureKit's performance negatively. Only keep the models/maps open that you need. To remove an individual model/map, untick it in this tool's list of models. Alternatively, in the Layer List click the Layer Context layer contextbutton next to the layer with the model's/map's name; select Remove Layer. The dialog at the end of this tool asks you if you want to delete all added models/maps; alternatively, you can select the Remove Datasets Clear button later in the SMP & Habitat Maps tab.

VBA Species Observations Tab

Filter Species (Basic) & (Advanced) Tools

The Victorian Biodiversity Atlas (VBA) is a collection of vetted species observations. The Basic and Advanced Species Filters operate on the Threatened Fauna and Threatened Flora VBA layers in the Layer List. Please see NatureKit's Layers & Datasets page for more information on these datasets. Zoom to 1:500,000 to activate on-click popups for individual observation points. Sensitive threatened species observations are represented by an approximate location polygon and certain fields are withheld in their attribute lists.

The Filter Species (Basic) filter basictool is a quick way of displaying the distribution of a single threatened species, with the option for fauna observations to restrict display to breeding-only datasets. The Filter Species (Advanced) advanced species filtertool offers more attributes to select from. Note that if you select an attribute that is withheld for sensitive threatened species (collector, survey method) or restrict your selection to high accuracy observations, your result set will only contain non-sensitive species. The advanced filter lets you select all species with a common attribute, which can result in very large result sets with very long processing times. The tool may show an error message to protect infrastructure resources. See NatureKit's Layers and Datasets page to find out how to download complete VBA datasets. Should an error message occur, please reload the site and narrow your search.

The Activate Halos option on the second screen of the tool dialog highlights observations, which is helpful when very few observations are contained in a filter result.

Select Set Drill Down Options to view an attribute table for the filtered results. On the next screen, you have the option to apply a spatial filter to the search results before the table is displayed. Only search results within your area of interest will be kept. You can download the attribute table and/or observation points, by clicking on the context menu icon next to the table title. We recommend CSV and ESRI shapefile formats for download. Please note that downloaded date columns may be in a month-day-year format even if shown differently within the NatureKit application.

Use the Close and Clear Button at the end of the tool dialog to reset the VBA layers. Should you accidentally use the X close button at the top of the dialog, you can still remove the filter by clicking the Clear Filter clear filter iconbutton in the VBA Species Observations tab.

Download from all Observations Tool (Species List)

While NatureKit does not visualise non-threatened species, it is possible to extract a list of all available VBA species observations for an area, including a species summary data sheet: go to VBA Species Observations Tab > Select the Download from all Observations download all observations icon tool

The tool offers multiple ways to define an area for which you want to download all observations. If the tool shows a time-out error message because your selected area contains too many species observations, please try a smaller area. See links on the NatureKit Layers & Datasets page for metadata with column abbreviations and how to download datasets for all of Victoria. NatureKit currently does not offer an option to view the distribution of non-threatened species.

Should you use your own shapefile polygon or a very complex EVC to define your area of interest and should it have an extremely large number of vertices, the tool will run a Douglas-Peucker-simplification algorithm to reduce the number of vertices in the polygon. You can control this algorithm by changing a parameter in the menu. We recommend changing this parameter in steps of 10m to approach an acceptable number of vertices. Simplification is not necessary for most use cases.

Threatened Species Assessment Report

Select the Threatened Species Assessment Report Search tool in the VBA Species Observations Tab . Information about the types of reports available is listed, along with a link to further information on Potentially Threatening Processes (PTPs) and Threatened Communities, found here .

Click Continue to species search and select from the Animal or Plant/Fungi/Lichen and the search by Common Name, Scientific Name or Taxon ID drop down lists.Start typing the relevant species information depending on your search conditions and select from the suggested species names that appear. Click Submit and the Click here to download report link will open a separate window with the PDF file.

General Tools Tab

Overlay Your Data Menu

Two different options exist to upload your own data and overlay it on the map:

Upload Shape File as Layer upload as layer - adds a shapefile  (point, line, or polygon; .csv, .xlsx,.kml,.shp, gpx,or a zipped FileGDB or shape file) as layer to the layer list for the duration of the browser session. You can set the layer name and display style. To delete the layer, locate the layer under User-added layers in the layer list, click the layer contextsymbol next to the layer name and select Remove Layer. This is useful for overlaying your own geometry on a map and will persist through the end of your browser session. It cannot be used as input to other NatureKit tools.

Upload Shape as Drawingupload as drawing- adds your area of interest to the Drawing Layer to be used as input to other NatureKit tools (see Species Observation Filters and Lists). Only polygon shape files are accepted. This option is less persistent than the Upload as Layer Option - the Clear tool in the Draw & Measure tab as well as the final step of many tools offers to clear the Drawing Layer and with it your uploaded geometry. You need to select a .SHP, .DBF and .PRJ file simultaneously -  additional files selected may lead to a failure of the upload process.

Create PDF, Image or GeoTiff Menu

Use the Map Window Only map widnow only tool tool to take a screenshot of the map window, which can be pasted into a text document. To place the map as georeferenced image in ArcGIS Desktop, choose the GeoTIFF option and ignore that Include Georeference Data cannot be ticked - the georeferencing information will be included if you proceed.

The Map with Legend tool creates a PDF file. You can choose a title for the map as well as A4 or A3 format. For maps with long legends, choose the option to place the legend on the next page. The legend will show all symbology for the active map layers and not just the symbology that applies to your chosen area on the map. In case of layers like EVCs, this may create very long legends.

Draw & Measure Menu

Use the Draw Draw Tooltool to add features and labels to your custom map or draw an area of interest to be used in other tools. The drop-down menu next to the point tool lets you choose other shapes for drawing.

If you close the browser or the browser is open but inactive for a longer period, you may lose your drawings. Some Species Tools will also ask you to clear the drawing layer before proceeding with an analysis. We recommend that you regularly use the Export Drawings Export Drawings tool to save them to your local computer. This will also allow you to use your drawings at a later point in time by using the Upload Shape upload as drawing tool. Use the Edit Drawing Edit Shapes tool to make changes to an existing drawing. To delete an individual drawing or change its style, double click the drawing to show these options.

Use the Distance Distance Tooland Area area tooltools for measuring. Adjust the measurement units in the toolbar after selecting the tool. The Clear Clear Drawings button will delete all drawings and measurements.

Search Location Tab

Search Address Tool

Select the Search Address search address tooltool and start typing a Victorian address. A list of suggestions will show once you typed at least three characters (excluding house numbers). You can search by full address, street name or locality. Please note that some units that have a letter in their house number may use the alternative backslash syntax in the search window, e.g. in some cases 65 and 65A may be only found as 1/65 and 2/65. Use the Add to Drawing Layer button to add the outline of a property on top of the map. Adding an item to the Drawing Layer will make it available to be used as a spatial filter (i.e.  to search only within the outline or the outline plus a distance buffer). Using the Clear Drawing Layer button from this tab, the General Tools tab or an interactive tool will remove the outline again.

To search for a parcel outline, you can access parcel and property outlines using the Identify on Reference Maps tool in the Query Reference Layers tab if you know where your parcel is located, or you can search for an SPI using the Select Based on Condition tool located in the same tab. Please read the tool descriptions below.

Search River Tool

Select the Search River search river buttontool and start typing a river name into the search field to see a list of suggestions. When you select a suggestion, a list of results is displayed. To highlight and zoom to a specific river, click on its name in the list. Select the result context result context menuicon and select Copy to Drawing Layer to add the river outline on top of your map. Using the Clear Drawing Layer  Clear Drawings button from this tab, the General Tools tab or an interactive tool will remove the outline again.

Zoom to XY & Plot Coordinates Tools

The Zoom to XY zoom to coordinate tooltool zooms the map to a specific coordinate with a choice of different spatial reference systems. You have the option to add a point marker at the specified location. To upload multiple points, consider using the Upload Shape as Layer or Drawing function in the General Tools tab.

The Plot Coordinates plot coordinates tool lets you click on the map to create a list of downloadable coordinates. To download the list of coordinates, click on the context menu list contextlayer propertiesicon next to the Coordinates list title and select export to CSV or export to Shapefile. Using the Clear Drawing Layer  Clear Drawings button from this tab, the General Tools tab or an interactive tool will remove the coordinates from the map. Untick the Plot Coordinates tool button to stop setting coordinates.

My Locations Menu (Location Bookmarks)

The Previous and Next Extent buttons let you switch back and forth between two recent locations. The Bookmarks bookmarksbutton in the My Locations menu allows you to create a list of named locations that can be accessed using the bookmarks symbol bookmarksunderneath the zoom buttons on the map. Note that a location in this context means a specific spatial area, but not which layers were turned on at the time of creating the bookmark.

Query Reference Layers Tab

Identify on Reference Maps - Property & Parcel

To see information on Terrain and Reference Layers, first turn on the reference/terrain layer in the layer list, then click on the Identify on Reference Maps identify on ref layer button in the Query Reference Layers tab and click on a location of interest on the map. A list of results will be provided organised by active reference layer. You will need to click again on the button to reactivate the identify tool every time you want to use it. Click on the layer in the result lists, then on individual results to zoom to the map item of interest and to display its attribute information. To add a buffer to the item, click on the result context menu result context menunext to the result in the list. Select Buffer Options to apply a buffer or Copy to Drawing Layer to add an outline of the item om top of the map. Using the Clear Drawing Layer  Clear Drawings button from this tab, the General Tools tab or an interactive tool will remove the outline from the map.

Street map information (including parcel, property, river, and road information) is a special case. To see attribute information for street map features, activate in the Layer List the Reference Maps superlayer as well as the sublayer Identify on Street, River, Property. This is an invisible layer, so you will not notice changes on the map. Select the Identify on Reference Maps identify on ref layerbutton and click on the map. The closer you zoom into your area of interest before activating the identify tool, the more results will be provided.

Sometimes a parcel or property outline is too large to fit on the screen at close scale and not shown when zoomed out. You can show the outline of a parcel or property at all scales, by using the identify tool on the approximate location of the property or parcel. In the results list, click the property or parcel layer (you may need to zoom further in to see parcel and property information before using the identify tool) and then add its outline to your map by using the Copy to Drawing Layer option as described above. Alternatively, if you know a parcel's SPI, see the Select Based on Condition tool (below) instead.

Select Based on Condition (Search feature by attribute)

Click on the Select Based on Conditionsellect based on condition icon tool to search a layer by attribute value. This tool allows you to set one or more conditions on a layer to only highlight features that fulfill the conditions. Layers that have their own search tools (e.g., the Species Observation Filters) and raster layers are excluded from the available layers.

Select a layer name in the Data Source drop-down. When setting a condition, to populate the drop-down list of suggestions zoom to your area of interest and set the map area to current extent. Large areas with long result lists time out before populating the drop-down, so limiting the search to a smaller extent is important. Selecting '=' instead of 'contains' also helps populate the list of suggestions faster. Click the Search button on the bottom right. Results are displayed by source layer name, click on the layer to display individual results.

Once you select the X button at the top right of the results/tool dialogue, the highlighted outline is cleared from the map. To add the outline for the duration of this browser session to the top of your map, click on the context menu result context menu icon next to an individual result and select Copy to Drawing Layer. Using the Clear Drawing Layer  Clear Drawings button from this tab, the General Tools tab or an interactive tool will remove the feature outline from the map.

Instead of using Current Extent, it is possible to use any outline that was added to the drawing layer as a search extent. The option will appear in the Map Area once a polygon drawing was added to the map. To add an outline as drawing, use the Draw tools or the Upload Shape as Drawing in the General Tools tab, or use this tool to create a search extent outline as drawing first and then run a second search using that outline as Map Area.

Please note that you need to activate the source layer in the Layer List if you want to display this layer in addition to the highlighted search result.

Page last updated: 21/03/23