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LCCS major LC classes GLCN and Africover are based upon the FAO and UNEP Land Cover Classification System (LCCS). LCCS is the only universally applicable classification system in operational use at present. It enables a comparison of land cover classes (the figure shows LCCS main classes) regardless of data source, economic sector or country. Most other land cover classification systems are single-purpose systems. The LCCS method enhances the standardization process and minimizes the problem of dealing with a very large amount of pre-defined classes.

LCCS is based on independent and universally valid land cover diagnostic criteria rather than on a pre-defined set of land cover classes. Its output is a comprehensive land cover characterization, regardless of mapping scale, land cover type, data collection method or geographic location. The LCCS has the best potential to become accepted as the international land cover classification standard because of its inherent flexibility, applicability in all climatic zones and environmental conditions, and compatibility with the existing classification systems.

At present there is no internationally accepted land cover classification system. However, FAO has submitted LCCS for approval to become an international standard through the TC 211 technical committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO, www.iso.org).


To fully understand and apply LCCS, the knowledge of some definitions used by the system is required. [Details..]


The FAO/UNEP Land Cover Classification System (LCCS) provides a scale independent method for classifying land cover. The approach supports all types of land cover monitoring and enables a comparison of land cover classes regardless of data source, sector or country. [Details..]


The classification is an abstract representation of the situation in the field using a particular set of diagnostic criteria, whereas a legend is the application of the classification’s abstract design in a particular area using a defined mapping scale and a particular data set. [Details..]

Food and Agriculture Organizations of UN United Nations Environment Programme Istituto Agronomico Oltremare (IAO) Italian Cooperation
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