Land Cover


Land cover refers to the physical and biological material, artificial or natural, that cloak the earth's surface. Land cover includes various elements like vegetation, bodies of water, built-up areas, barren land, and agriculture fields among others. It is an integral concept in the field of geographical information systems (GIS) for monitoring and managing earth resources, offering a snapshot of the terrain covering the Earth's surface at a particular point in time.

What is Land Cover?

Land cover is depicted in terms of categories or types based on the physical properties of the earth's surface. It can include features such as water bodies, forests, grasslands, wetlands, bare soil, snow or ice, urban areas, industrial sites, and agriculture. Land cover is fundamentally distinct from land use, despite their potential overlap. While land cover signifies the physical state of the earth's surface, land use refers to how humans utilize the land.

In GIS, land cover maps are integral tools for various applications, including urban planning, environmental management, disaster risk reduction, and climate change studies, among others. These maps are created based on data obtained from satellite images, aerial photos, or ground surveys.

They help researchers and policymakers understand changes in land cover, assess impacts of human activities on the environment, and devise strategies for sustainable land management. Land cover mapping can also aid in assessing biodiversity, water resources, carbon sequestration, and the potential for renewable energy sources.


How is Land Cover Classified?

Land cover is typically classified into various categories or types based on physical properties of the earth's surface. These can include water, artificial surfaces, forests and semi-natural areas, wetlands, grasslands, agricultural areas, and others.

What is the Difference Between Land Cover and Land Use?

While they may sometimes overlap, land cover and land use are fundamentally different. Land cover refers to the physical attributes observed on the earth’s surface. On the other hand, land use implies human activities associated with given areas for economic or social purposes such as residential, commercial, agricultural, or recreational activities.

Why is Land Cover Mapping Important?

Land Cover mapping is crucial as it supports environmental planning, wildlife conservation, agriculture management, and climate change research. It assists in assessment of ecological health, determining environmental impacts of urban growth, planning infrastructure projects, and devising policy related to land management.

How is Land Cover Data Collected and Analysed?

Land Cover data is predominantly collected through remote sensing techniques, using satellite imagery and aerial photography. This data is then analyzed using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to classify and map diverse land cover types. Species composition, canopy structure, and physiognomy are key attributes analyzed during this process.

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