Styling GeoBase land cover data

GeoBase provides the free Land Cover, Circa 2000 – Vector product which contains 1:250,000 land cover categories (water, ice, crops, urban, trees, …) for all of Canada. It has some use in wind energy development, as you can use it to classify the roughness length of terrain for flow modelling.

The data are provided as very large shape files, indexed by National Topographic System (NTS) codes. These aren’t the easiest to remember, so I keep finding myself going back to the Vector Indexes of the National Topographic System of Canada, especially the handy Google Earth version. Toronto is in NTS 030M, so I downloaded that. Here is what a cropped part looks like loaded over the local Toporama WMS tiles:

The fun stuff is hidden in the attribute table:

So the COVTYPE field is clearly holding something about the land cover type. But what?

GeoBase helpfully provide a PDF key and a style file — which only works with ArcGIS products. As a dedicated (okay, yes, cheap) user of Open GIS systems, this could not stand! So I dug through the Styled Layer Descriptor (SLD) format, and came up with style files (in both English & French) that work with QGIS:

To use them with QGIS, open up the layer properties, and go to the Style tab. You want to use the New Symbology option, then Load Style … From here, you can open the SLD file (changing the file type from QGIS’s default QML to SLD), which should appear like this:

This makes the layer look much better:

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