Geospatial data for Ecological Restoration

Map of Devastating 2003 Heat Wave in the Netherlands Observed from MODIS Satellite. Mehdi Aminipouri (PhD Candidate in Geography at SFU)

Accessing assistance

For assistance with GIS, geospatial data, and maps send an email to Sarah (Tong) Zhang, Librarian for Geography, GIS, & Maps, at or book a GIS consultation

Access points for geospatial data

SFU Library 

The licensed geospatial data that SFU Library has purchased are available for instant download in SFU's section of ABACUS. Browse datasets or use the search box in the top right to search by keyword(s). ABACUS also contains statistical and numeric data. See also the Public Data Collection in ABACUS (no SFU login required). 

Integrated Cadastral Information Society (ICIS) Data
Use the data product descriptions to identify the geospatial datasets that are useful to you. Then identify the specific dataset titles using the ICIS File Manifest in the "Data & Analysis" tab in ABACUS. The GIS & Map Librarian (Sarah (Tong) Zhang; can download the following types of geospatial data on behalf of SFU researchers:

  • Cadastral data for all of BC
  • AddressBC Data
  • Assessment Fabric Layer Data from BC Assessment
  • Canadian Wildlife Service
  • Agricultural Land Reserve
  • Health Authority Locations
  • Conservation Parcels
  • Police Jurisdictions

BC Geographic Data - Many products on this page are free and can be downloaded by anyone. However, some have a cost. The GIS & Map Librarian (Sarah (Tong) Zhang; can download the following products on behalf of SFU researchers for free or a reduced cost. These products are for academic use only. 

LandScan Global Population
Country-level demographic data, 1st level admin demographic data, pixel (1km²) level data, and a layer with area calculations for population density. Country and 1st level admin level data include age, gender, and age-by-gender population breakdowns. 

Open Data catalogues and pages


Google can be a great way to locate datasets. Things to keep in mind:

  • Google search commands will let you have more control and make your search more effective. In general, you want to nest each of your concepts in parentheses and use OR within the parentheses to combine synonyms and related terms. For example:
    (parks OR trails OR "green space" OR "street trees").
    Using quotation marks around phrases will make Google search for an exact phrase. Consult the Library's Search tips for Google and Google Scholar for more information. 
  • You need to use geospatial keywords like the following in your search: GIS, shapefile, shp, “spatial data”, geospatial, "open data"
  • As an example, searching Google for: 
    ("tree inventory" OR "street trees") Ottawa (geospatial OR "open data")
    Brings me to this page in the City of Ottawa's data catalogue, where I can download a shapefile or kmz of street trees in Ottawa. 

Organizations and research groups

Academic library data catalogues and portals

Many academic library data catalogues or portals contain Open Data that anyone can download; here are a few that do. 

Scholars Geoportal - Ontario Council of University Libraries 
MIT GeoWeb - MIT, Harvard, Tufts, MassGIS
ABACUS Public Data Collection - UBC, SFU, UVic, UNBC

Citing data