I have to create vegetation and sensitivity maps for sites. I have a site boundary shapefile and map from raster aerial imagery behind the site boundary vector.

When I used to use Arc I used the cut polygon tool. This allowed me to create a one shapefile vegmap with different polygons that I could label according to what they are (eg: forest, grassland, disturbed areas). The cool thing about this is that it eliminated any of those slivers of areas not mapped or intersecting polygons). This is important as I need to use the map to calculate areas of each of the different vegtypes.

I cannot seem to find a similar function in QGIS. I have fiddled with snapping and it really isn't good enough. It will take me hours and hours to individually snap the vertices for a small map, let alone a huge and intricate one!

Does anyone have an answer for me to do this in QGIS?

I have not got ArcGIS Desktop and cannot do it there.

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  • It might help if you posted a before and after image from ArcGIS of what you want to achieve. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 10:45
  • There is no processing, I would do the whole map like that. However, here is a picture of an example of the map I am trying to create. I do not want separate layers for each vegetation type. It needs to be one polygon. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 10:49
  • So are you trying to merge different layers into one? Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 10:58
  • No, I am trying to create one layer from the start. The cut polygons tool in Arc allows you to do this provided you start with a boundary. You then basically cut the original polygon (the whole site) into little pieces which are then labelled according to category. It is always just one polygon. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 11:05
  • Thank you all so much for your help! I have figured it out with your invaluable help and am now on my way to mapping up a storm. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 12:43

2 Answers 2


You could use the Digitizing Tools plugin, that contains te cut-by-polygon, cut-by hand and other features like that. (go to Plugins-> manage and install plugins - > search for digitizing tools -> click install)

  • This works! Thanks so much. So I only have one more question... How do I get items I have split in the middle to be present without lines? I have tried merge but it doesn't seem to work perfectly (I have added the picture to the original question). Essentially I need to make the polygon 1 (A by product of the cutting process) merge with the larger polygon 2 so that they are one with no lines. Is this possible? Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 12:17
  • That would be the dissolve function, standard in Qgis. If they are seperate files you might need to copy-paste the feature first.
    – Borgh
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 12:21
  • I have tried that, but it does not allow me to retain the map as one single shapefile. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 12:26
  • I have figured it out! Thank you so much for your help!! Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 12:42

I think you are looking for the Split Feature tool. Show the Advanced Digitizing Toolbar

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and look for the icon

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With the feature you want to split up selected you can now draw lines across it to split it up.

  • Thank you! Yes that's the one! Just one more niggling question - please see my comment in the previous answer. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 12:19

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