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Forestry GIS (fGIS™) is a compact but robust shapefile editing program, digitizer and GIS data query tool for Windows®. fGIS was designed for natural resource managers who are not GIS specialists. It’s easy-to-use and simple to install. Many power users also like fGIS because they can run it on laptops or home computers without copyright issues, it produces data compatible with commercial GIS programs, and fGIS is free.

Download a free, unlimited copy.

Build Date: September 24, 2005 - ~6 MB

Click for Revision History

No support is available.


fGIS was made by WI DNR using the TatukGIS® Developer Kernel and other sources.

Notice! As of November 7, 2005, Forestry GIS (fGIS) updates are no longer available for public download. Although Wisconsin DNR continues to improve fGIS, a change in the license agreement for the TatukGIS Developer Kernel would require payment of royalties to distribute newer versions of fGIS outside of DNR programs. A list of updates to fGIS since the September 24, 2005 build is available, which might explain bugs you encounter in the older version. (You can continue to use and freely share versions of fGIS released before November 7, 2005.)

As shown in the fGIS Quick Start Guide, the program arranges geographic themes (layers) in a simple table of contents. The order of layers can be changed by dragging them up or down. Layers can be made semi-transparent if needed to view information underneath. Symbols, lines and fills can be changed with flexible property menus. Users can add their own point, line or area objects by tracing over aerial photos or other maps. Length and area values in US or metric measures are calculated automatically. Users can also import tabular and GPS data.

You'll find that fGIS is relatively simple to use:

  • Open and view geo-referenced raster images including digital orthophotos and topographic maps in MrSID®, ECW, BIL, ADF, JPG, TIFF, GeoTIFF, BMP, IMG, JPEG2000, PNG and SDTS file formats.

  • Open and view vector data in ESRI® shapefile (SHP) and e00 files, AutoCAD DXF™, MapInfo® MIF, Microstation® DGN, DLG-O, TIGER2000/line, GML/XML, SDTS and TatukGIS SQL (ttkls) file formats. An advanced R-Tree index system allows easy viewing of large (100+ MB) data files.

  • Create and edit point, line and area shapefile objects and their associated data attribute tables. fGIS also edits and writes MIF, DXF, DLG & GML vector layers.

  • Buffer point, line or area objects at any designated radius or width.

  • Generate Cruise Points. Select an area object and fill it with either a random or ordered grid.

  • Design maps with pre-defined layer symbology (PDF preview 28KB), or use advanced layer properties to define your own.

  • Copy and paste shapefile objects from one layer to another.

  • Designate the direction and distance of the next leg of a line or polygon with the COGO-like Traverse Tool. Directions can be entered in decimal degrees or degrees-minutes-seconds (handy for plotting deeds or laying out a field data collection route).

  • Split a polygon or line (including GPS tracks) into separate units by drawing a line with the Split Shapes Tool.

  • Clip Shapefiles to the boundaries of a polygon layer.

  • Merge multiple shapefiles into a new one.

  • Customize map properties including line width and color, area fills, label fonts and positions, image transparency, thematic rendering of data and more.

  • Measure areas and distances. fGIS reports distances and areas in English units (feet, miles and acres) and metric units. Area and perimeter measurement fields can be added to data tables and updated automatically.

  • Display data at user-specified scales.

  • View maps in 3D.

  • Map live GPS positions from any connected GPS unit with NMEA output (beta).

  • Extract geo-referenced images of selected portions of a screen display.

  • Export part of a vector layer and save it as a new file.

  • Manage large data sets organized in dBase tables with the "Load Library Layer" utility.

  • Join dBase and Access tables to shapefile attribute tables.

  • Create point shapefiles from comma delimited text files with x|y coordinates.

  • Convert Geographic WGS84 coordinate shapefiles to and from worldwide UTM zones and Wisconsin Transverse Mercator.  (Use the MN DNR Garmin Tool for transferring shapefile waypoint and track data to and from GPS units.)

  • Print the map with three flexible output options. The Simple Print command will add a map title, subtitle, footer and the scale to the page. The Send Map to Word command will send an image of the view at a user specified resolution and scale to Microsoft® Word. A third option through the Export Image tool will send the map to a technical illustration/page layout module called Diagram Designer. You can add headers, legends, annotations and non-spatial symbols from template palettes in the Diagram Designer module.

  • Save WMF files for use in publishing programs.

  • Georeference scanned images with fGIS and other available freeware.

  • More specifications and instructions are here.

Sample Projects

You can experiment with the following projects to understand the basic techniques used by fGIS. The zip archives include a project file (with a "ttkgp" extension), all the data layers and property settings.

  • State_Park.zip (3 MB) - Property boundaries, roads, streams, aerial photos, etc. for Devil's Lake State Park in Wisconsin USA.

  • Arborvitae.zip (2MB) - Part of the Northern Highland State Forest in Wisconsin, USA.

  • Forest_types.zip (1MB) - Pie chart layer properties for forest cover types in Wisconsin (by TatukGIS).

  • Tuerlen.zip (4MB) - Türlen, Switzerland. The project contributed by Stefan Lutz (TOPTEC Lutz) includes test data ©SwissTopo and freeware symbol fonts for trees. To view a shaded relief terrain, start the 3D Viewer from the Utilities Menu and load Terrain-Model.tif as the DTM and one of the BMP overlays (shown below).


Language Files

fGIS includes a "language.ini" file (a simple text file) that can be modified for languages other than English.

The alternative language files are located in the root fGIS folder. They are named with an extension to indicate which language they contain (e.g., the Deutsch [German] file is named language.ini.de). To use one of these alternate language files, begin by renaming the original "language.ini" to "language.ini.bak" with a file manager like Windows Explorer. Then rename the language file you want fGIS to use as "language.ini". (For French language users, a French Help File is also available.)

If you are interested in creating a translation, a helpful software tool is called "Translator" by Jernej Simoncic. It lists the original language.ini file in the left pane, compared to your translation in the right. Information about how to create a compiled help file is available on request.

If you create a unique "language.ini" file, please send a copy.

Note that the Diagram Designer page layout module from Michael Vinther also offers additional languages.

Thanks to the following fGIS users who submitted alternate languages for fGIS:

Translator (with links to affiliated organizations)

fGIS Language.ini

Silvio Ferraz

Brazilian (Portuguese) 11-Oct-04

Pavel Šustr

Czech (česky)  19-Feb-2006

Michèle Melki

French (Français) 5-Apr-05

Also see the fGIS Help utility (through Feb 24, 2005) in French

Stefan Lutz

Français fGIS_Aide.zip CHM

20-Jul-05 (1.7 MB Zip)

fGIS_Aide.pdf (3.8 MB)

Dirk Heuer

German (Deutsch) 27_Sept-05

Language.ini.de for Build 2005.09.13 and an fGIS.ini.de for the Fieldnames used in the translation. Install both or the "Update Shape Measurement Fields" won't work properly with the translated units. Unzip to the fGIS folder and remove the "de" suffix.

Stefan Lutz

Deutsch, damit fGIS Hilfe CHM

28-Jul-05 (1.5 MB Zip)

fGIS_Hilfe.pdf (2.9 MB)

Lucia Di Nucci

Italian 29-Nov-04

Zbyszek Gurgul

Polish 9-Sep-04

Ján Hrbatı

Slovak 30-Oct-05

Wilson Arias Chasqui

Spanish (Español) 23-Oct-04


Thai 7-Jul-05

Where Can I Get Uniform Base Map Data for fGIS?

To begin a mapping project in fGIS, you must type in a project name and then import at least one geo-referenced image or vector layer to establish a coordinate system. fGIS requires that all data layers be in the same map projection and datum or else they will not line up. Wisconsin foresters can get image and vector data sets from Wisconsin DNR that are standardized in the Wisconsin Transverse Mercator (WTM) 83/91 coordinate system.

For others in the United States, TerraServerUSA is a ready source of free aerial photographs and USGS topographic maps in the UTM NAD83 coordinate system. There are a number of programs that will download and save TerraServerUSA images for use in fGIS (see freeware USAPhotoMaps). If you need to change the projection of images to a different coordinate system, see DGWarp.

For political boundaries, roads, streams, PLSS township sections and other vector line layers, an easy approach is to download shapefile data in Geographic (lat/lon) format. The Shapefile Projection Utility in fGIS can then convert the shapefiles from the Geographic to UTM NAD83 format to match TerraServer images. If you need free shapefile layers, check ESRI® or MapShots® for starters. Another source, webGIS, has hard-to-find Public Land Survey System DLG shapefile data derived from USGS quadrangle maps. (Wisconsin UTM zones are here. Check here if you need the UTM zone number for a location elsewhere in North America. See the USGS site to learn more about the UTM projection.) For worldwide shapefile data, see ESRI® or Global GIS at the American Geologic Institute.

Another fine complement to fGIS is the freeware program 3DEM, which produces dazzling 3D color shaded relief models. 3DEM can convert digital elevation data from a number of formats to the UTM NAD83 coordinate system. The program saves elevation image maps that can be easy opened as layers in fGIS. fGIS can also blend TerraServer aerial photos and 3DEM elevation maps in semi-transparent overlays.

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