GIS facility

GIS map

GIS mapping of Natural History Museum fern collections in China


We support research projects within the Natural History Museum and with external collaborators, working on a priority system when dealing with requests.

For more information about the Facility contact Dr Malcolm Penn (GIS Manager) by email or on +44 (0)20 7942 5523.

The GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Facility carries out and supports research involving the capture, management and analysis of geographical data.

The Museum holds vast amounts of relevant data, from basic level locality data on herbarium sheets to more complex spatially geo-rectified research data. 

We hope to establish a huge spatial resource in conjunction with GIS techniques, to help educate, train and push forward the boundaries of scientific knowledge.

GIS allows us to map and model a range of present-day events:

  • distributions of organisms
  • mineral resources
  • presence or absence of data
  • recent and future species extinctions
  • biodiversity and conservation projects

GIS software

The GIS Facility has a Chest Site license, which includes the use of ArcGIS and ERDAS IMAGINE software packages.


ArcGIS is a complete software system for designing and managing solutions through the application of geographic knowledge. (ESRI 2011)

The software is split into three packages:

  • ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced (formerly ArcInfo)  - the full GIS analysis suite for more expert users.
  • ArcGIS for Desktop Standard (formerly Arc Editor) - standard Museum use allowing spatial data analysis and visualisation.
  • ArcGIS for Desktop Basic (formerly ArcView) - entry level visualisation and analysis package.


A digital image analysis software, used to help analyse and interpret satellite imagery.


Our staff are highly experienced in GIS techniques and regularly publish academic research in the field.

GIS Facility staff have expertise in a number of key areas:

  • GIS mapping
  • spatial statistics, geostatistics, time-series data
  • methodologies involved in using GIS and remote sensing
  • geo-referencing, climate change, distributional data, hotspot data
  • vegetation classifications, conservation
  • biodiversity monitoring, modelling, measuring, plot sampling methodology