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Land Cover Change (1995-2015)

Land cover is defined as the physical material at the surface of the earth, usually documented via the interpretation of earth observations. Common land cover types include trees, grass, bare ground, built up areas, water, etc. How well are different ecosystem types (as indicated by land cover) preserved and how strong are anthropogenic changes affecting their distribution in a given area? Human pressures are constantly increasing and it is important to monitor the consequences of the associated changes on the environment. This map shows the changes in land cover between 1995 and 2015.

Land Cover CCI (2017). Product User Guide Version 2.0….


Since land cover data are derived from earth observations, uncertainties and accuracy in the land cover classification varies in space and time. Clouds are often obstructing observations in tropical regions and coastal areas, and vary a lot from year to year. Different sensors have also been used over time and the older yearly land cover maps are less reliable than the most recent ones. Still, because we use a time interval of 20 years, the main trends in land cover change are expected to be captured, especially if changes occur clearly between the aggregated classes. We refer to the documentation of the land cover CCI product ( for a detailed discussion about the main limitations of the product.

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