About the National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information

About the National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information (IGN)

The National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information (IGN) is a public administrative establishment placed under the joint authority of the Ministers in charge of Sustainable Development and Forests. IGN is the official reference for geographic and forest information in France.

IGN's four main activities

IGN uses its expertise in geo-information to provide support to public authorities for analysing and implementing land planning projects, and to draw up and assess public policy on defence, national security, sustainable development and environmental protection.

  • Production of reference databases
  • Distribution of multi-themed geographic data
  • Provision of data use services
  • Research, higher education and professional training

Key figures

State-of-the-art services

As a provider of digital technology for the French territory, IGN develops reference databases, products and services, and supplies advice and expertise to meet the country's growing and changing geographic information needs.

IGN Espace

The spatial imagery experts

IGN Espace provides expertise to the space sector, in the fields of programming and satellite imagery processing. It checks the geometric quality of sensors on board satellites and develops operational production lines of data acquisition, processing, production and quality control, for both civil and military applications. IGN also works alongside Airbus Defence and Space and its partners to help monitor territorial changes, primarily via the Pléiades satellites, which enable frequent, stereoscopic observation of key areas, and the SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 satellites, which provide annual coverage of the entire French territory.

The Large Scale Reference Database

An essential planning tool

The Large Scale Reference Database (RGE®) provides a standardised, precise description of the French territory and the country’s land use. It contains reference data for understanding, decision-making and communication in the fields of environment, development planning, transport, agriculture and risk prevention, among others.

The Large Scale Reference Database

Forest resource maps and inventory

IGN produces detailed forest maps, consistent with its Large Scale Reference Database (RGE®). The Institute continually updates its inventory of national and regional forest resources, based on its own reference studies, with a particular focus on describing current and projected wood stock availability. It also monitors forest ecosystems. The resulting data is taken into account when developing and assessing public policy on forests, and is considered as a reference in the forest-wood, environment, planning and sustainable development sectors.


The official portal for geolocalised-information in France

Géoportail, the people’s portal to France, makes it easy to access the official reference of geographic information. It is interoperable and continually enhanced with data from multiple partners. This comprehensive infrastructure provides access to numerous themes and information layers of interest to the general public, and also covers some of France’s neighbouring countries.


Innovation at the heart of IGN's DNA

IGN’s research and educational activities provide the Institute with a strong foundation for data production and development of services which directly meet users’ needs. As a result, the Institute is responsible for the very latest innovations in geographic information technologies.

A prestigious engineering school of geomatics

The Institute contains an educational division which includes the École Nationale des Sciences Géographiques (IGN’s School of Geomatics), which specialises in data processing and acquisition technologies, the integration of these technologies into information systems and their applications as decision-making tools. The school has also developed a network of international partnerships.

Huge research potential

In IGN’s five research laboratories, 73 permanent researchers and 27 PhD students carry out research into production, distribution and use of geographic information. Specific areas of research include the design of specialised measuring instruments, spatial geodesy, city model reconstruction and data integration.

IGN's laboratories collaborate with other research teams in Europe and worldwide. The Institute’s achievement of world-class excellence was recognised in 2013, when the LAREG received a European Geoscience Union medal for its work to improve the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF), and for its significant contribution to spatial geodesy research.

    Object oriented design, generalisation of topographic information and cartography laboratory
    Geodesy research laboratory
    Laboratory of optronics, electronics and mechanics for instrument design
    The photogrammetry computer vision and remote sensing laboratory
  • LIF
    Forest inventory research laboratory

Géocube : An innovation in GPS land survey measurementGéocube : An innovation in GPS land survey measurement

IGN's international contribution

IGN contributes towards strengthening international cooperation in the field of geographic information, participating actively in international bodies such as the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), EuroGeographics, the umbrella association of European national mapping and cadastral agencies and EuroSDR, an organisation which links together European research in geomatics.

Improving access to geographic data and services

IGN plays a leading role in European and international initiatives designed to improve access to geographic data and services, as well as their interoperability, through harmonisation, standardisation, distribution and sharing of information.

To this end, IGN's experts work with various European bodies to develop and maintain the INSPIRE infrastructure, which provides citizens and decision-makers with easy access to reliable geographic information that can be used to formulate and implement the European Community’s environmental policies.

IGN is an active partner in the European Location Framework (ELF) project to develop a platform providing continual, unified access to all authoritative geographic data available to European states, within the framework of the INSPIRE directive.

More about the IGN, pdf 8.8 Mb
Natural risk prevention for territorial management in France, pdf 1.8 Mb

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