IGN: a summary

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On January 1, 2012, the French National Geographic Institute and the National Forestry Inventory merged into a national public administrative establishment, the National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information (IGN).

This new national public administrative establishment is under the dual supervision of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and the Ministry in charge of forestry.

The vocation of the National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information

The IGN’s vocation is to describe the surface of the national territory and the occupation of the land from a geometric and physical point of view, to develop and update the permanent inventory of national forestry resources.

It produces all the appropriate representations of the data thus gathered, disseminates and archives them. It thus contributes to land use planning, sustainable development, the protection of the environment, defence, national security, risk prevention, the development of geographic information and of forestry policies in France and on an international level.

The new institution’s goals

The aim of the merger between the two establishments is to profit from the concentration of the skills of both the IGN and the IFN (National Forestry Inventory) in order to increase the present capacities in terms of describing the national territory and land use as well as those related to inventories of forestry resources. This will benefit public policies as well as land use planning and sustainable development activities.

The new establishment will retain the various missions of both establishments but will have new expanded functions as well.

Specifically, the National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information will be explicitly entrusted with the implementation of the national geographic information infrastructure, it will be in charge of presenting the forestry map as a digital reference database, implementing programmes for the observation and surveillance of ecosystems, providing information contributing to the definition, implementation and assessment of national policies on ecology, energy, forestry, French land use planning, the prevention of climate change and the adaptation to these changes. It will be responsible for implementing and administering the government’s Inspire portal.

The new institute is assisted by an unique scientific and technical council for its research and development missions and by an advisory committee in the field of forestry.

The newly created institute thus falls in line with the joint aspiration of both ministries to reinforce their coordination on the issue of sustainable and multi-functional management of forests.

Statutory missions

  • Design and create a geodetic infrastructure that is consistent with international systems and ensure the management of the national geographic, gravimetric and altimetric reference databases;
  • Complete and periodically renew the aerial or satellite imagery coverage of the entire national territory;
  • Create and update geographic databases and mapping backgrounds for the entire territory. The list of these is determined by the Minister in charge of sustainable development, including the large-scale repository (RGE). The large-scale repository is an integrated geographic information system covering the entire national territory and is composed of digitised and interoperable databases that describe the themes, geographic denominations, administrative units, addresses, cadastral parcels taken from the cadastral map, transportation networks, hydrography, altitude, land occupation, ortho-imagery and buildings mentioned in the appendices I, II and III of the directive of March 14, 2007. The methods for the creation and updating of the large-scale repository are defined by the decree of the minister in charge of sustainable development;
  • Establish and update the databases related to resources and to forest environments over the entire metropolitan territory as well as a geographic reference database for the description of different tree species consistent with the large-scale repository, publish an annual report of the results of the permanent forestry inventory, provide the elements necessary to the demarcation of homogenous forestry regions, follow and specifically monitor the forestry ecosystems, produce indicators for sustainable management of French forests that are compatible with international criteria and participate in conference work and international organisations in the field of forestry, in conditions defined by the decree of the Minister in charge of forests;
  • Implement national or international programmes for the observation and surveillance of ecosystems in conditions defined by the decree of the Minister in charge of sustainable development;
  • Manage the documentation deposited at the national photo library in conditions defined by decree;
  • Disseminate geographic and forestry databases as well as the mapping backgrounds that they are made up of, especially by using an INSPIRE portal as defined in article L. 127-1 of the environmental code;
  • Provide the involved ministries with the information relevant to their competencies and contributing to the definition, the implementation and the assessment of national policies related to ecology, energy, forestry, land use planning, prevention of climate changes and the adaptation to these changes, contribution to the preparation of French positions in international courts in these fields;
  • Bring to the minister in charge of sustainable development support for the operation of the National Council of Geographic Information and, more generally, for the implementation of the national geographic information policy;
  • Implement and administer the government’s INSPIRE portal concerning the consultation services defined in article L. 127-4 of the environmental code and the transformation services defined in the same article when these services are dedicated to changes in coordinate reference databases;
  • Direct the activities of the National School of Geomatics in the conditions defined by the joint decree of the ministers in charge of sustainable development and budget, respectively;
  • Carry out research and development activities in its fields of competency;
  • Participate in work carried out in France and in an international setting for the organisation and normalisation of the geographic information infrastructure.

Complementarily, the institute can conceive and, respecting the rules of competition, sell any product or service using the data collected or the know-how acquired in the context of its public service missions.