Department of the Environment

Working to ensure a healthy environment for current and future generations.

The Department of the Environment has a mandate to achieve a high quality environment by providing effective environmental protection; addressing the threat of climate change; protecting and enhancing our natural environment; developing sustainable waste management practices; promoting energy efficiency and sustainable energy generation as well as ensuring that Gibraltar’s development respects the delicate balance between environment, economy and society.

Securing the integration of environmental considerations into all government policies is one of the Department’s key objectives. This means that as well as providing and maintaining policies, programmes, legislation and information for the protection of the environment, we also promote the integration of environmental considerations into the wider decision making process.

Department Overview

The Department of the Environment was established in 1997 in response to increasing interest in environmental matters throughout the community. The Department is based primarily at Duke of Kent House on Line Wall Road. The team consists of scientific officers, administrative officers, an environmental monitoring and feedback unit, currently based at New Harbours and the keepers and staff at the cemetery.

The Department deals with the whole spectrum of environmental issues, ranging from air and water quality, waste management and habitats through to the maintenance and upkeep of planted areas and the management of the local macaque population. We are also responsible for monitoring contracts between the Government of Gibraltar and service providers such as the Environmental Agency, Master Service, the Gibraltar Veterinary Clinic and Wildlife Gibraltar.

Geographic Information Technologies (GIT)

Geographic information technologies are tools used for collecting and processing information.  There are three main types of GIT, namely global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS).  

A GIS consists of hardware and software, with procedures of automated data, designed to support the capture, management, manipulation, analysis, as well as the modelling and display of spatially referenced data for solving complex planning, management, environmental and research problems.  

Analysis using GIS is important because it integrates spatial as well as other types of information, provides a consistent analysis framework for geographically referenced data, provides new and insightful ways of manipulating and displaying data as well as allowing the viewing and analyses of data based on geographical proximity and relationships.

The role of GIS for Gibraltar and the Department of the Environment

GIS within the Department of the Environment has been developed as a decision support system.  This support system will convey environmental information to assist various Government departments in Gibraltar in their decision making process.  

The main application for GIS within the Department of the Environment is spatial analysis, cartography and visualisation.  GIS’s use as a day-to-day tool is rapidly growing, and is becoming the professional standard by which data gathering and management is conducted.  GIS systems enable users to map the exact location of a feature and relate this to surrounding features on a layer based system.  It allows strategic planning, development control and pre-application assessment (Grossinho, 2001).  This GIS project will assist in the modelling of urban regeneration based on the “suitable-for-use” approach adopted by Government departments.  The use of GIS will offer various options to assist government departments in the integration of EU directives with the Gibraltar regulatory system.

One of the key tools of a GIS is data handling capabilities.  Once the features have been captured into a GIS they can be analysed and modified to suit the requirements of the project.   A GIS allows a great degree of flexibility to the categorisation and display of data.  

A GIS database will consist of a series of layers that can be overlaid to provide information concerning spatial patterns.  From the perspective of the Department’s work in environmental management, research and statistical analysis, when combined with GIS, provide a very powerful instrument for the identification of factors controlling the variability of environmental data and interpreting the results.  Confirming and refining hypotheses related to environmental interpretations from statistical outputs is best achieved when several methods are used to complement each other.  This will ensure that policy makers make informed decisions on a whole array of factors affecting a plan or project.

The key abilities and tools GIS offers

Using GIS to collect data, store, manage, analyse and produce accurate reports, the Department of the Environment can monitor and map many of Gibraltar’s natural assets e.g. planted areas, protected species, and our protected habitats i.e. Gibraltar’s Nature Reserve and the Southern Waters of Gibraltar.    

The INSPIRE directive

In Europe a major recent development has been the entering in force of the INSPIRE Directive in May 2007, establishing an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe to support Community environmental policies, and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment. Click to read more on the INSPIRE Directive.

A European Spatial Data Infrastructure will assist in policy-making across boundaries. Therefore the spatial information considered under the directive is extensive and includes a great variety of topical and technical themes.  

As the Government of Gibraltar competent authority for INSPIRE compliance the Department of the Environment, in conjunction with the Information Technology & Logistics Department, have combined efforts and resources to ensure Gibraltar complies with its European Union responsibilities.  Although the overall aim is INSPIRE compliance it is a secondary objective for the Government of Gibraltar through this project to enable all Departments to digitize all spatially relevant information to enable better decision making and updating of Government information repositories.