Land cover data represent the physical characteristics of Earth’s surface—whether it is forest, tidal wetland, urbanized region, or grassland. Using land cover data, the user can examine landscape patterns and characteristics as given below:
- The extent, availability, and condition of lands.
- Ecological system extent, structure, and condition.
- The potential for dispersion and effects of chemicals and other pollutants in and on the environment.
Land cover also influences or has an impact on watershed hydrology, including water quality, environmental conditions, habitat and species composition, climate, and carbon storage. It also alters the hydrologic regimes, runoff patterns, and flood buffering in watersheds.
The user can use land cover as a starting point from which various monitoring activities (change detection) can be performed. This land cover information can be used for many purposes, such as assessing non-point sources of pollution, understanding landscape variables for ecological analysis, assessing the behavior of chemicals, and analyzing the effects of air pollution.
The Land Cover command of CivilGEO’s software allows the user to display both natural and man-made land cover of the selected region (United States, Canada, Africa, Europe, India, Australia, and New Zealand) on the Map View.
Note that a CRS should be assigned prior to running this command. Otherwise, the software will display the below informational dialog box.
To learn more about the coordinate reference system (CRS), refer to this article in our knowledge base.
Displaying Land Covers for Different Regions
To display the land cover on the Map View, select the Land Cover dropdown menu from the Map Data ribbon menu.
Note: Based on the current CRS of the project, the corresponding region will be enabled.
- USA – This option displays seamless land cover information from the national land cover database published in 2021 by the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium. This layer contains 8 levels of classification and generalizes to the level of vegetative physiognomy (i.e., grassland, shrubland, forest, etc.).
- Canada – This option displays the 30 m land cover map of Canada generated by the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS). This land cover dataset is also the Canadian contribution to the 30 m spatial resolution 2015 Land Cover Map of North America, which is produced by Mexican, American, and Canadian government institutions under a collaboration called the North American Land Change Monitoring System (NALCMS). This land cover dataset for Canada is produced using observations from the Operational Land Imager (OLI) Landsat sensor. An accuracy assessment based on 806 randomly distributed samples shows that land cover data produced with this new approach has achieved 79.90% accuracy with no marked spatial disparities.
- Africa – This option displays the land cover map of Africa at 20 m based on 1 year of Sentinel-2A observations from December 2015 to December 2016. The legend includes 10 generic classes that appropriately describe the land surface at 20m for example “tree cover areas”, “grassland”, “cropland”, “open water” etc.
- Europe – This option displays the Corine Land Cover 2018 (CLC2018) datasets produced within the frame of the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service referring to the land cover/land use status from the year 2018. CLC service has a long-time heritage (formerly known as the “CORINE Land Cover Programme”), coordinated by the European Environment Agency (EEA). It provides consistent and thematically detailed information on land cover and land cover changes across Europe. CLC datasets are based on the classification of satellite images produced by the national teams of the participating countries – the EEA members and cooperating countries (EEA39). National CLC inventories are then further integrated into a seamless land cover map of Europe.
- India – This option displays the Land Use/Land Cover (LULC) for India on a 1:250,000 scale and is published under Bhuvan-Thematic Services of the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The different categories of LULC cover built-up, agricultural, and natural areas. The LULC maps were generated using multi-temporal satellite data for the years 2005-06, 2010-11, and 2015-16.
- Australia – This option displays the dynamic Land Cover Dataset of Australia i.e. the first nationally consistent and thematically comprehensive land cover reference for Australia. It is the result of a collaboration between Geoscience Australia and the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences and provides a baseline for identifying and reporting on changes and trends in vegetation cover and extent.
- New Zealand – This option displays the New Zealand Land Cover Database (LCDB), i.e., a multi-temporal, thematic classification of New Zealand’s land cover. It identifies 33 mainland land cover classes. LCDB is suitable for use in national and regional environmental monitoring, forest and shrubland inventory, biodiversity assessment, trend analysis, and infrastructure planning.
Clicking on any of the desired countries listed above will cause the software to display the following Land Cover dialog box.
The Layer name entry field allows the user to define the name of a new land cover layer to be created and displayed in the Map Data Layers panel. The software sets “NLCD Land Cover” as the default name for the land cover layer, which can be changed by the user.
The Land cover data source dropdown combo box allows the user to select which land use data source to utilize for the newly created layer. By default, the software selects the latest land use data. The following options are available in the dropdown combo box:
- NLCD Land Cover 2021 (default)
- NLCD Land Cover 2019
- NLCD Land Cover 2016
- NLCD Land Cover 2013
- NLCD Land Cover 2011
- NLCD Land Cover 2008
- NLCD Land Cover 2006
- NLCD Land Cover 2004
- NLCD Land Cover 2001
If the “Overwrite existing data” checkbox option is checked, then the new land cover data selected in the Land cover data source dropdown combo box will overwrite the existing land cover data (if one exists).
Note that for countries other then the USA, the Land cover data source dropdown combo box and Overwrite existing data checkbox options are not available.
The user can click on the [OK] button to add the land cover of the selected region on the Map View.
In the Map Data Layers panel, the software will provide a data legend for each land cover layer that lists the land cover data included within that layer. The user can expand the layer to view the data legend.