Data Preparation and Using ArcMap to Display Biodiversity Data

This exercise shows how to access and download commonly used layers including; country, land cover, biodiversity data and how to display them properly in ArcMap. It also shows how to enter geographic features from external data sources such as an Excel file.

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Downloading basemap data for a country

1. Go to the website
2. Select Fiji from the Country drop down menu
3. Click on OK to download the Administrative areas shapefile
4. Click on Download in the Spatial Data Download window
5. Save the .zip file to a Project Folder in your Desktop
6. Go back to the Download data by country page and repeat steps 3 to 5 to download Roads, Elevation, Population and Gazeteer

B: Downloading landcover data
    1. The land cover database is available at
    2. Click on the Fiji link and download to your Project Folder as an ESRI shapefile
    3. Open ArcMap from the Start Menu

C:    Unzipping downloaded files and setting the projection in ArcMap
      1. Unzip all downloaded files into your Project Folder
      2. Open ArcMap and Create a New Blank Map (leave your Default geodatabase as is)
      3. Right mouse click on the Layers icon in the Table of Contents
      4. Select Properties at the very bottom
      5. Click on the Coordinate System Tab
      6. Select Predefined -> Projected Coordinate
        System -> National Grids -> Oceans-
        >Fiji 1986 Fiji Map Grid
      7. Click on Apply

D: Adding Layers in ArcMap

When you add additional shapefiles or layers you will be asked to transform the layer if it has a different coordinate system. Click on OK when the dialog box comes up.

    1. Add the downloaded layers by clicking on the + button and selecting all the layers
    2. You should now have the following layers/data:

E: Reading location data from external files
The gazetteer contains all the names of identified features for a region
    1. From the File Menu select Add Data->Add XY Data
    2. Choose the “FJI” table from the drop down menu or click on the folder to look for the “FJI” database in the Project Folder
    3. If the X Field and Y Fields are blank or “Long” and “Lat” do not appear, it means that the columns are not formatted as numbers. To rectify this, open the FJI.dbf file in Excel, Select all the numbers in the Lat and Long columns then Click on the warning icon and select “Convert to number” and the text will be reformatted
    4. Save the FJI.dbf file as an Excel file “FJI.xlsx” (it is easier to process)

F: Exporting into a Shapefile the data from the Excel File
    1. Go back to ArcMap
    2. From the File Menu select Add Data->Add XY Data
    3. Look for the file “FJI.xlsx” and Click Add
    4. The worksheets in the file appear; Selec “FJI$” and Click Add
    5. The LONG and LAT Fields are now shown
    6. When you click on OK, a warning about missing Object_ID is shown. Click on OK
    7. Export the FJI$ data by right-mouse clicking on the “FJI$ Events” layer and select Export Data
    8. Save the data as “FijiGaz.shp” into your Project Folder
    9. Export All features in the window that results and output to the Project Folder (don’t add the Exported features to the Map when prompted)

G: Defining the Projection of the exported Gazeeter shapefile
    1. Define projection of the exported FijiGaz using the Arc Toolbox -> Data Management Tools-> Projections and Transformations->Define projection
    2. In the Input Dataset or Feature class input box search and select “Fiji-Gaz” from the folder icon
    3. Click on the Spatial Reference Properties button
    4. Click on Geographic Coordinate Systems
    5. Select World
    6. Select WGS1984
    7. Click on Add
    8. Click on OK
    9. Click on OK again
    10. Save your ArcMap Project

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