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FAO Land Cover Classification System and Harmonisation

The Land Cover Classification System (LCCS) was developed by FAO and UNEP in response to a need for harmonized and standardized collection of land cover data, availability of land cover data for a wide range of applications and users, and comparison and correlation of land cover classes. LCCS is an a priori classifier. It represents a world-wide reference system for land cover able to combine a high level of flexibility (ability to describe land cover features all over the world at any scale or level of detail) with an absolute level of standardization of the class definition between different users. The system allows a dynamic creation of classes without to oblige the user to relate to a pre-defined list of names by a dynamic combination of land cover diagnostic attributes called classifiers.

Version 2 of the Land Cover Classification System (LCCS-2) has been released in 2005. The software is completed and ready for download from the LCCS web page together with the LCCS 2 manual.

GOFC-GOLD endorses LCCS as essential component for harmonization and validation of global and regional land cover datasets. It provides the appropriate framework for land cover legend generation and as exploratory tool for comparing and contrasting classification schemes. GOFC-GOLD LC IT and GTOS recommends LCCS as a standard to space agencies to endorse this to CEOS and any related land cover projects. As part of that process GOFC GOLD will work towards international consensus for the thresholds and a hierarchy of thresholds used in LCCS.

Setting up LCCS as an ISO standard

LCCS is currently undergoing the approval process to become an ISO standard as a framework to classify land cover and compare systems internationally. A draft version of the standard has been discussed at the 24th Plenary meeting of the ISO Technical Committee 211 (ISO/TC211) for Geographic information and Geomatics (May 2007, in Rome).

The 3rd version of LCCS is currently in development. This new version will be based on LCML - the Land Cover Meta Language. The concept was presented at the LCCS Workshop during the 3rd GOFC-GOLD Land Cover Symposium.
Further information: Presentation (A. Di Gregorio, FAO): Introduction of the LCCS 3 concept

For further information about LCCS-2 contact Antonio Di Gregorio or explore the following resources:

During the 2nd EARSEL Workshop (from 28-30 September 2006 in Bonn, Germany) GOFC-GOLD held a tutorial on LCCS.