GLCN and Africover are based upon the FAO and UNEP
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
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
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.
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.
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.